Day 4: Run with Perseverance


The New Testament uses imagery of a race to describe our Christian life. God calls us to this race (Phil. 3:14). We train for the race (1 Tim. 4:7-8). Our training requires strict self-control (1 Cor. 9:25). Anyone who runs the race must compete according to the rules (2 Tim. 2:5). There is a prize to be won (1 Cor. 9:24), and anyone who seeks to win the prize must run with singular devotion, with one’s eye set on the prize which is Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:1-3).


It’s a special race, similar to a relay race. In this race, some runners have run before us and others will continue to run after us. The ones who have run before us have not disappeared from the course. Since they have finished the leg of the race, they have gathered at the finish line where they can cheer on those who are still running. The bible says that those who have already finished the race are “the great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1.


Those who are running now are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses. They are encouraging us moment by moment, reminding us that any difficulty, all difficulties, can be overcome and must be overcome if we are to join them at the finish line. Is this encouraging or what??! Here is the verse.


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and sin that easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1


Think of this great cloud and whose on the cheer leading team. Abel, for instance, kept running despite the deadly harassment from his brother Cain. Joseph kept running despite the wicked slander against him. Moses kept running despite the opposition of the Jews. Most importantly, another person in the “great cloud of witnesses” is Jesus. The “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” described by Hebrews. He is the best cheerleader and trainer of them all and we who are running today are to keep our eye on Him above all. Jesus didn’t run one leg of the race; he created the entire race ahead of us and now wants us to keep on running with our eyes on Him.


We are told in Hebrews 12:1 that we are not to just simply run, but to run with perseverance. So what does it mean to run with perseverance?


To me, I think, first, to run with perseverance means I must keep running regardless of distractions. I must run with a focus, a concentration, an aware determination.


With my run today, I have officially passed the 200-mile mark since late October. Now, I have run for many years, but never really tracked my mileage until recently using a running journal and Nike Plus website. Encouraged after officially hitting this milestone, I tossed out my old running shoes, opened the box to my new treads and synced my new earned success. I am very visual (and an overachiever), so to see where I ranked on the running chart was exciting for me. The cool thing about the Nike Plus site is that it graphs and groups your running mileage into color levels and recognizes the total distance you’ve achieved since joining NikePlus.com. To my surprise, I noticed that I have now reached the ‘green level.’ To a newbie on the site, the level looks like I have accomplished a lot, but if you read what defines the next levels, it is a little discouraging. My excitement and focus diminished in a matter of seconds to discouragement of miles and miles not yet completed.


One fine runner, Martin Fagan, who qualified for the Beijing Olympics, was distracted during his road to the Olympics when he tested positive for EPO (erythropoietin). This is a drug that is one of the most conventional and readily detected methods of enhancing performance. After his one and only injection administered in December, he ended his Olympic career at age 28.


Similarly in the course of life, we get discouraged, defeated, and sometimes we even get clobbered. We become a victim in a thousand different ways. The one thing we should try to avoid is to never let our many victimizations distract us so that we lose our focus, our intensity, our horizon-filling dedication to the task at hand. We must never allow our victimization’s to move us into that place where we throw it all away, which results in stopping the run.


Secondly, I believe in order to run with perseverance I should keep running patiently. The race of Christian life is not a race that ends in 200 miles or at the black level on NikePlus.com. It’s a long race, a lifelong race. I must run patiently.


Most importantly, to run with perseverance I need to run without of distraction, run patiently and I must also run to finish.


A reporter wrote a recap of a marathoner during the 1968 Olympics games in Mexico City:


“It was the marathon: 26 miles, 385 yards. The first place runner crossed the finish line, then the second, the third, and so on. As the last runner, it would seem, straggled in, the spectators and camera crews noticed an ambulance with lights flashing several hundred yards up the course. The flashing lights warned the crowd not to surge onto the track as the race wasn’t yet over. One runner remained on the track.


This fellow had come from a developing country in the two-thirds world. His nation had no funds for state-sponsored training programs. The people had simply sent him off with whatever encouragement they could press on him. Now he was running with men whose economic privilege gave them enormous advantage.


This fellow, ambulance alongside him, would stagger a few feet and fall on his face, get up and stagger a few more feet and go down again, over and over until he had traversed the last few hundred yards. When asked why he had persevered at such a price he replied,


“My people did not send me here to compete (they knew I couldn’t compete); they didn’t even send me here to run; they sent me here to finish.”


Incredible huh? That gives me chills all over to read. The most important part of this race is that we run to finish. Who cares if we get to our goal with scraped knees and a bleeding face? It is only that we finish that we find ourselves standing with the great cloud of witnesses in the company of our Father.

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