Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 26:1-27:36 / Hebrews 12:1-13 / Psalm 122:1-5
The movie, Forrest Gump, won numerous awards and acclaim. The story line followed the life, struggles, innocence and victories of a physically and mentally challenged man named Forest Gump. Early in life the world was cruel and unaccepting, as boys would try to run him down with their bikes. His friend would shout, “Run, Forrest, Run!” and he would drop his books and run. He had cumbersome braces on his legs and then one day he ran right out of them as they began to fall off.
Forrest discovered that he was an accomplished runner and throughout the movie, we see him running and running and running. I’m reminded of Forrest when I read this passage, “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.” (Hebrews 12:1)
We are in a spiritual race as we run from sin to holiness and from earth to heaven. It is a daily race of pursuing the course that God has planned for us and following in the footsteps of Christ. We are all at different mileage markers as some have just started while others are experienced veterans. Some have worn out many pairs of shoes and have battle scars from their falls.
In order to run and win this race, we need encouragement and the “great cloud of witnesses” are wonderful encouragers. Like a stadium filled with cheering fans, the champions of faith cheer us on from heaven. We read of their difficulties, struggles and challenges in chapter 11 but despite the opposition, they were victorious. We are told to run in the shadow of God’s overcoming power and victory.
We also need to run unhindered by sin and unencumbered by discouragement, doubt and the cares of this world. Sin weighs us down and will trip us up every time. Ungodly choices, worry and fear will hold us back and drain our strength. Like Forrest, we will not be able to run effectively until we run out of the braces of sin and the world that encumbers us.
Spiritual endurance will see us across the finish line. The race is described in the Greek as “Agona”, a race of conflict and struggle… “Agony”. It is not a time to give up or quit but a time to press through. Spiritual discipline, devotion and zeal will equip us for the tough stretches.
The race is easy when we are strong and the course is smooth but when our hearts grow heavy, limbs weak and step uncertain, look past the crowd and fix your eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith”. (vs.2) Jesus will not ask more of us than what He Himself experienced. He will complete the good work in us. We can run with confidence, faith, enablement, endurance…and joy!