Scripture: Hebrews 11:29-12:2
We are surrounded by witnesses. The idea here is not of a great Olympic moment with grandstands and spectators but rather a host of individuals who can bear witness to the practice of faith.
Imagine them standing one by one to tell their stories — Gideon, Rahab, Samuel, David, and Jesus. Each story is an authentic witness to the risks and rewards of believing in God. Jesus himself is the pioneer witness who entered our human experience in a way never done before. He is the perfect witness who always trusted the mission he was sent to perform with an eye on the joyful outcome.
Hebrews 11 ends with these witnesses awaiting the promised “something better.” Chapter 12 begins with Jesus’ anticipating a “joy before him.” The life of faith is in anticipation of a much better day to come.
Between the hopeful future and the present challenge is our race. Our challenge is to throw off the things that hinder and entangle us. In human terms, these are things that divert our attention — challenging setbacks or the temptation to quit. Anything that draws our attention away from Jesus and the path he has made before us must be jettisoned in favor of finishing the race.
Our race is just that — ours. No one can throw off these things for us. We must do that work ourselves. No one can provide persistence for us. We must do that work too. Jesus has cut the path for us in his life, death, and resurrection. It is our turn now.
Today, Lord Jesus, I see you with fresh eyes. What a persistent race you ran for the sake of the kingdom! Help me to follow you more closely and to release lesser things. Amen.
By Ben Ingebretson, Upper Room Disciplines 2022, p. 271.