Hebrews 12: 1 & 2 (NIV): “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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This Scripture is referring to the Christian journey, the race to eternity. When I think about the cloud of witnesses mentioned in the Scriptures above, I imagine a coliseum packed with people, so many in fact that they look like a cloud. No particular person can be identified in such a crowd. In that cloud of witnesses I believe that people from our past, present and future are there. Paul the apostle (who was Saul before his conversion), John the Baptist, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther (who posted the 95 Theses centuries earlier) and my mother are some of the people from the past. Present individuals could be co-workers, parents, friends, ministers of the gospel (such as the Bishop of my church) and mentors. People from the future are children, including the unborn.
In throwing off the things that hinder us from running the race, I remember learning that in Biblical days the athletes competed stark naked in sporting events. If they had anything on, it was probably sandals. This meant they had NOTHING to hinder them while they participated in the races, thus increasing their chances of winning. This means we cannot have any baggage from our past or continue to hold on to sinful habits or traits (such as porn, lying, cheating, abusing others, unforgiveness or hatred) and expect to run the Christian race effectively.
Notice that the race has to be run with perseverance – which means that this race does not end in one day. This race is intended to last until life’s end, so perseverance is the key to finishing the race. As a runner races, he or she must keep looking straight ahead to reduce distractions and to keep the finish line in full view. As we run our Christian race, remember that Jesus Christ will meet us at the finish line. Notice it says the “Author and Finisher” (KJV) of our faith – because Jesus is there when we first begin our Christian journey and He will be there to meet us at the end. Also, understand that He represents that other set of footprints on the sands of life – so we are never alone in this race.
Jesus Christ ran this race Himself more than 2000 years ago. He endured the cross and He experienced shameful treatment. He overcame it all by resurrecting from the dead and ascending into the heavens. He now sits at His Father’s right hand, interceding for us. He is our Ultimate Champion in this race called life. One more thing: The only way to complete this race is to keep on running. Imagine that you had entered the Olympics and fell in one of the races. Because of your embarrassing fall you decide not to get up from the tracks. You had other races you could still take part in, but you chose instead to camp out on the tracks. Other runners using the same track did not see you lying there and stumbled and fell over you. This may be an amusing scene, but we do this many times. We make mistakes, get distracted or make wrong decisions and instead of getting up, dusting ourselves off (which means forgiving ourselves and asking God to forgive us) and keep on running, we stay on the ground. While we’re down there, we are a stumbling block to those coming up behind us. When we don’t get our act together, we can cause our children to stray. We can cause others who were looking at us as an example to fall away from the faith.
It’s just not worth it to stay on the ground! Let us understand the gravity of our situation and run this race with faith, determination, patience and perseverance. Without these traits we will not finish. We all want to hear at the end of it all: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
(Matthew 25:21, NIV) Song: We Fall Down Donnie McClurkin
(feat. Marvin Winans) You can get back up again (Repeat 5 times)
For a saint is just a sinner who fell down – And got up.