As I write this and schedule it to post in advance of the date you will see it or have it arrive to your devise, this date of the 17th of December is the day that I anticipate not one, but two grandchildren due to arrive. No, not twins — two different families.
Of course, given my passions in life, I am hoping these children (boys or girls) will prove to be great distance runners. The genetics on both sides would tend to favor that outcome. I’m convinced that God would be a marathoner as a sport of preference. Hey, give me all of the Bible references to soccer, football, golf, Nascar, whatever. Now think about the many passages that talk about running the race. It is a matter of Bible exegesis … I rest my case.
Speaking of running and my boys, one of my son’s collegiate coach had a phrase he would use in place of out-and-out cursing when something went wrong: he would simply blurt out “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”
And yes, that’s who we have been talking about these past couple of days, looking at how Mary and Joseph and Jesus all quickly and fully obeyed God. In each case it would prove very difficult to do so, but they did.
Today’s passage is another of those that speak of life as running … of running with endurance. It tells us that Jesus did it and that we too should do likewise …
Hebrews 12:1 — Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Sorrows, difficulties and complications of life will find their way to every last one of our doors. It can even pile up sometimes, making us feel like just giving in or giving up.
But we can’t do that.
Thousands have gone before us and lived faithfully, and sufficiently and successfully, because of endurance and an eye on the goal at the end. Beyond that, we should consider again the ultimate model of the original pioneer of faith, of Jesus. Did everything go well at every turn of his life? Of course not, especially in the manner by which he would be the sacrifice for sin.
How did Jesus endure all that befell him in his life and death? The text says that it was “for the joy set before him.” This joy would be the reward at the end of the process, the reward of life eternal and the inheritance of an eternal kingdom free of sin. The pain and scorn were all worth it.
In my life I’ve run and/or biked thousands of miles in training and competing. And though there were certainly times I enjoyed the process of running and riding (usually in the first 30 minutes of a long run or ride), by the time I am getting near the end, hey, I am really ready for it to be done. I’ll sometimes pick up the pace and effort just to get to the finish. And stopping is … well … in a word – “glorious.” The reward of looking back was worth it all, and there would have been no reward in quitting halfway through.
So in life, double down with your godly commitment, even in the presence of pain and sorrow, because the reward at the end of it all is more than worth it. “For the joy…” (This is the title of one of our special songs this coming Sunday – to be sung by Genesis Medina … it’s beautiful.)