I have been on vacation for a week and left the computer on standby. I needed some time to recharge my batteries by resting and relaxing at the beach. Having done all that I now return to the regular scheduled to do lists and regular blog posting. I found this article by Scott Elliott at Faithwriters.com a site a post to regularly. I find inspiration along my cyber journey and I like to share blessings as I find them. This one by Scott is a real gem. I pray it ministers to you as much as it did to me.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”
(Hebrews 12:1, NRSV)
Have you ever watched a race involving a relay team? I am intrigued how everyone on the team, when they receive the baton, drops everything and takes off running.
Sports were of immense social and cultural significance in antiquity. They even played an important role in many religious festivals. The earliest Olympic Games included four types of races, each of varying lengths and difficulty. The stadion was the oldest of the races. In this race, runners were required to sprint the length of the stadium (192 meters). Another race required competitors to run the length of two stadiums, and the long distance race could range from seven to twenty-four stadiums.
Versions of these races still exist in the modern Games. But the Greeks also had a race unlike anything in the modern Olympics: a race that was two to four stadiums in length in which the athletes ran in full armor. A standard set of armor weighed nearly sixty pounds. Can you imagine running nearly half-a-mile as fast as you can with sixty pounds of forged metal hanging off your body? Clearly, this particular race was about strength and endurance. The writer of Hebrews is aware that, in similar fashion, many things can weigh us down and prevent us from keeping the pace necessary to finish our Christian race victoriously.
In Hebrews 11:29-12:2, the writer has just finished recounting an honor roll of men and women who, motivated by faith, acted boldly and accomplished great things for God. They persevered despite the hindrances they encountered while running, and the writer of Hebrews offers us their track record as encouragement to persevere. “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run…”
In the ancient Games, just as now, it was considered a great honor to represent one’s country and people in competition. The challenge far outweighed the strength and endurance that was required. And, the prize symbolized more than the olive wreath that was awarded. Think about whom it is that we represent when we run the race of Christian perseverance. Think about the prize that we strive for. We do not run for ourselves. And more importantly, we do not run in our own strength.
The Scriptures say we run fueled and powered by Jesus, who “is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2a, NRSV). And, as we run, all those who have gone before us, including Jesus himself, our champion, cheer us onward.
Are you in the Christian race? Then, drop everything. Grab the baton, let the chorus of adulation ring in your ears, focus on Jesus and run.
This Reflection is drawn from the [http://www.bibles.com/brcpages/resources-eBulletin ]Bible Resource Center’s e-Bulletin Series – an online ministry of the [http://www.bibles.com ]American Bible Society.
For more Bible Study Resources visit: http://www.bibles.com/bibleresources