Running the Race

written by Nicky Dixon

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You don’t need to be an athlete to appreciate the outstanding effort being shown by so many competitors at the Tokyo Olympics. Isn’t it inspiring to see their dedication, sense of purpose, self-discipline, courage and determination? And all are competing without the usual huge roaring crowds, just team-mates and trainers on the side-lines, and of course the knowledge that family and friends, as well as countrymen back home are rooting for them to succeed.
 

Paul encourages us to identify with these athletes, with eyes, energy and focus on an end point, working through fatigue, discouragement and pain. Unlike them, we aren’t competing against other people, but engaging in an effort of faith that is life with God. We can know elation, satisfaction and achievement as we look to Jesus as our inspiration, our personal trainer and our reward.
 

Can you fill the gaps in these well-known words from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews?

Therefore, since we are ………. by such a huge crowd of …….. to the life of faith, let us …….. off every weight that slows us down, especially the …….. that so easily trips us up. And let us run with ………. the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our …….. on …….. , the champion who initiates and …….. our faith. Because of the ……..  awaiting him, he …….. the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne. Think of all the …….. he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become ……..  and ……...  Hebrews 12 verses 1-3 New Living Translation
 

We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn. (The Voice)
 

Hebrews 11 has that wonderful list of individual men and women of faith, including Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David, Samuel. I’m sure we can all add more recent names of those who pursue God with such zeal and commitment that we aspire to their life of faith. But we can only run OUR race, not other people’s and it is more of a marathon than a sprint.
 

What are the specific things that tend to hinder you? Let’s throw them off and not be slowed down.

And those sins that do so easily tangle round our legs and trip us up, hurting us and others – let’s ask God to deal with sin in us, that we will run fast and free.
 

May Isaiah 40 verse 31 be true for each one of us: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”
 

Lord, thank you that we can learn from Jesus, who looked beyond pain and suffering to the hope of achieving salvation for us, and then reigning with you. May we fix our eyes on eternity with you, rather than our momentary sufferings.
May we keep engaged in this exciting life of faith, and not grow weary or be discouraged.

Thank you for the example and inspiration of so many who have gone before us. May we, like them, excel in worship and faith, and reach the end of the race that is our life, full of zeal and committed to finishing well with you.

May we cheer and encourage one another on, bear one another’s burdens and may our life of faith encourage others.

Help us to hold out the word of life to others, that they might find their way to you.

Amen

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