Monday, April 5, 2010

Running the Race...the Right Way

During one of our Easter Sunday services this past weekend, our pastor, Pastor Robert L. Dickie, Jr., chose Hebrews 12:1-2 as the verses on which he would teach. Wow! I learned a lot...about verses that I thought I knew. Let me clarify...if pressed, I would tell you that I was very familiar with the first verse of Hebrews 12. And if asked to summarize, I would certainly mention the great cloud of witnesses (see Hebrews 11) and that we need to run the race before us. What?! Did I miss something? Isn't that it?! I learned yesterday that that certainly was not all to that verse. Paul, the suspected author of this letter to Hebrew Christian believers, included directions on how to run the race before us. How did I miss that?! Who knows...but I must have been ready to hear it this Easter Sunday.

So, what does Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, instruct us to do to run the race set before us? Looking again at Hebrews 12:1, we see that we are instructed to lay aside every weight. In this illustration given to us by Paul, this compares to a runner taking off any unnecessary clothing or equipment prior to running. Before Pastor Dickie gave his thoughts on what this description represented, I immediately thought of the weight of worry, excuses and doubt...anything that interferes with our faith in Jesus, prevents us from putting our whole weight upon Him to overcome obstacles and accomplish the work assigned to us by God. In my personal circumstances, this is anything that I let get in the way of getting healthy or fulfilling my daily responsibilities within my home and to my family, or interfering with positive deposits I can put into the relationships in my life. As my thoughts drifted in this direction, Pastor took me in another as he began to elaborate on this little phrase...and this one is no less valid than those I had just been preoccupied by. Pastor suggested that the weight mentioned represented all those things in our life that may not be sinful themselves, but distract us from becoming all that we were designed to be. For example, why is sleep too important to interrupt for quiet time in prayer and with my Bible? What do I make a priority over doing a puzzle with the kids? Why do I choose to watch a movie instead of reading a great book? Perhaps even too much time spent at the computer. Or, as the case is with many people, am I saying "yes" to too many activities...projects at church, various lessons for the kids, etc.? Activities that spread my time, talent and attention so thin that I don't do anything well...thus hindering the opportunity to glorify God. "Weights may be good things that are keeping us from great things," our pastor taught.

This verse then tells us to set aside the sin that does so easily beset us. This is tough stuff...because it's not just saying don't kill people and don't take things that don't belong to you in the literal sense. It is saying to refrain from hatred in your heart for others, regardless of their belief systems. It is saying that we should not judge others, for we all could be judged for something. We should not gossip...we should not envy or covet the lives/belongings of others. We need to be selfless, rather than selfish. We are to strive to live lives rich with the Fruits of the Spirit (from Galatians 5:22...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). We are to strive to be like Jesus...always.

Finally, Hebrews 12:1 tells us to run our race with patience (from the KJV, NIV uses the term "perseverance"). How do we do that? Look at the next verse...by looking to Jesus. When times are good...look to Jesus and give thanks. When times are tough...look to Jesus and rest in Him. As Hebrews 12:2 tells us that, despite despising the shame He would experience on the cross, Jesus endured it for the joy that was set before Him...a relationship with you and me. If you fix your eyes on that reward...a relationship with the "author and finisher of our faith"...can you persevere through the hills and valleys, twists and turns of your race?

As I said earlier, I must have been ready to hear this small part of Scripture this weekend because I do not remember it from any other moment of study in my life. My prayer now is that I am also ready to act on it...and I can do so by following Paul's instructions -- lay aside the weights...do my best to lay aside my sins...stay patient and persistent by looking to Jesus.


Special thanks to Pastor Robert Dickie, Jr. for his faithfulness to teaching God's Word. His blog is found here.

Note: Photo taken by the author...from a Bible given by her mother to her grandparents in 1960.

4 comments:

eve said...

Thanks for posting this! I think we will look at this again as a family for scripture study this week. I love getting new insights! This is why you have to blog... I learn from you!

Tracey said...

You are so sweet, Eve! If I get anything right when it comes to Scripture, though...it's because I have great teachers such as Pastor Dickie, Pastor Stewart and BSF...and, of course, the Holy Spirit. Can't take any credit myself.

Falula said...

Beautifully put, T.

Tracey said...

Thanks,F.