Everyone has a story to tell. When we make the connection between our story and God's great story, we come away with HIStory, which involves each and every one of us.
“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Sweat pours down his face, wind blowing against his cheeks, ankles aching, back straining, knees in full force, inhale, exhale – the image of a runner in the race of his life. He can see, taste and feel the finish line. All excess weight has been removed prior to the race. His focus is not on his opponents or the crowd; any distraction will hinder the outcome. His shoes are specially made to withstand the race and provide optimal support for his feet, ankles, knees and back. The only thing spectators don’t see on the day of the race is the amount of training endured by the runner weeks and months leading up to this day. It is a long and sometimes painful and agonizing journey.
Our journey is very much like that of a race. There are spectators, there is a runner, there is pain and there certainly is a finish line. Our race will feel agonizing at times and it will not be without pain and obstacles. However, did you know that like a race, we have cheerleaders! “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” These witnesses are spectators; men and women that have gone before us, heroes of the faith who ran this race and reached the finish line; prophets and saints who cheer us on clapping and shouting out our name and encouraging us as we run our race. God knew we would need this. Just picture Abraham, Moses, Samuel and David looking down on you from the bleachers and shouting out words of encouragement, as you feel out of breath, thirsty, hungry and fatigued. You have an entire section of fans supporting you. They recount their experience and remind you that they reached the finish line and you can do it too! Keep going!
So how are we supposed to run this race? “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so entangles.” Runners remove excess weight; unnecessary clothing or accessories that may weigh them down and ultimately hinder their race. What excess weight or sin is hindering you from running your race well? Is it a lack of faith? What can you do about it today?
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”
When Peter in great faith said “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water,” it took great faith to actually get “down out of the boat” and walk on water toward Jesus. But what happens next is what so easily happens to us when a storm hits. When he focused on the wind, he became afraid and began to sink. The storms of life come creeping up on us and before we know it we are drowning, just like Peter. Like a runner, we focus on our opponent, the storm, and no longer have our eyes set on our goal but the obstacle that surrounds us. If our eyes are fixed on Him, our doubts will not hinder us from seeing His face. Instead of looking to our right or to our left and focusing on the storm that ensues and pursues us, let us look ahead at Jesus, the “author and finisher of our faith.” If we remain focused on Him, we will finish the race well.
Be encouraged today. You have a great cloud of witnesses, cheerleaders looking down on you! All you have to do is look up and fix your eyes on Jesus!
Dear Father, we enter your throne room of grace and mercy with hearts overflowing with praise because of your love and faithfulness to us. Thank you for the great cloud of witnesses that cheer us on with loud shouts of encouragement as we run our race. Thank you for sending these heroes of faith ahead of us that we may see how they completed the race and now bask in your glory. May our faith remain strong. May we persevere through difficult seasons and struggles in life and complete the race well and one day receive your great promise. In Your Son’s great name, we pray these things. Amen
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Song of encouragement:
This I Believe (The Creed) - Hillsong Worship
Damaris U. Avila lives with her loving husband and their two inquisitive and sweet girls. Through personal storytelling, she invites women to share and see themselves in God's story. She leads young girls through BeYOUtiful Girl Time, a sisterhood where girls are encouraged to become the women God designed them to be.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."