by Tom Brennen
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Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
I’m a runner, and as I’ve grown older, my focus on speed and finishing times has waned. I now seek races that take me to beautiful places in God’s creation. Trail running has the added benefit of teaching me perseverance as I race over challenging terrain hour after hour. This type of race is not a sprint; it requires endurance and focus.
Our readings this week have asked us to deeply consider what it is to follow Christ. Our reading today prompts us to ask some questions: What race has been set before us? How long is it? What terrain is it on? What waits for us at the end?
Organisers of running races often provide a map of the course and an elevation profile. One would think this would allow me to prepare well and not be surprised when sections are very tough, indeed. I should know what I am getting myself in for. Yet, time and time again, I hit a particularly horrible hill and technical downhill section that leaves me close to crying in pain. In such moments, I have been known to feel frustrated with the race organisers for making things too hard or not giving me enough warning!
The Christian life is indeed a race, much like a long-distance trail run where the times and finishing positions don’t matter so much; it is really about completing the course. God has a path for us to run, and it is often very challenging. While we know that carrying the cross will mean sharing in Christ’s suffering, it doesn’t stop us from being surprised, angry, frustrated or hurt when the suffering hits.
As the strategic plan of Paul told us yesterday, to walk God’s path is to join in the sufferings of Christ. The good news is that Christ understands suffering and is with us in our suffering. And when we finish, our Lord Jesus, seated at the end of our journey, at the right hand of God, is ready to welcome us home.
Let us seek to persevere and learn all we can from our journey. In this way, we may be an example to others in how we run this race.
Father, give us the perseverance we need to walk your path and carry our cross. May we not lose sight of the end of our journey and its reassurance. Amen.