“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”
We are not alone in this life. We know from His promise that the Lord is with us, and the Holy Spirit within us, at all times. But there are more. There are the living memories of those who before us were faithful witnesses to the truth and glory and salvation of God. Some of them suffered enormously but they held on to their faith and trust in God to the very end.
However it seems that the writer also presents them as being now witnesses to our lives and living. He portrays them as former athletes filling a great stadium and cheering and urging the present athletes on as they strive with every fibre of their being to successfully complete the race for which they have been selected. It is a magnificent picture and one that should fill us with hope, faith and encouragement.
Then of course there are also our fellow athletes. Life is not a competition against them but alongside our fellow believers against the distractions and prejudices and participants in a fallen world. The encouragement we receive along the way from someone running next to us, and the encouragement we can give to others by our words and example, are of inestimable value.
So as you face the future don’t give up or ease off. No matter the dark clouds around you, or the sense of isolation that comes and tempts you with hopelessness, keep going. Lift you heart to the whispered encouragement of the Lord, turn your ear to the calls of encouragement from Abraham, Joshua and David, Mary, Mary Magdalen and Peter and press on.
There is no going back, your starting point does not exist anymore. You are a pilgrim well into your journey and the goal gets closer every day.
With God’s help I can
Lord help me to be aware of You as I run my race, to know that You are always with me and that You will give me the strength and encouragement that I need and can pass on to others. Amen.