Freedom to Run Our Race
by Rev. Tiffany Crosby, Professor of Business for SEU Ohio
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV).
I have spent a considerable amount of time in Hebrews over the past several months as God continues to draw me back to its text. I have read multiple commentaries, watched sermon series, completed an online course, and have journaled extensively on what God is speaking to me during this season as He directs me through Scripture. The picture I continue to come back to is one of a person who is running freely sometimes at full speed, sometimes at jog, and sometimes at a fast walk but always moving forward. The person has been freed from the weight of their past, the weight of false beliefs, and the weight of unreasonable expectations, so they are able to live a godly life focused on their divine purpose. The person is full of joy having let go of anxiety, fears, and worries. The person doesn’t necessarily know his or her destination but can see the current leg of the race and that’s enough. He/she knows the next part will be visible when they round the bend and that they will be strengthened to overcome any obstacles encountered.
Within this image, a few points stand out to me that are also fueling my prayer time. I encourage you to think about in your own devotional time:
We each have a race to run that is unique to us. I can’t run your race and you can’t run my race. Each of us must show up and take our place on the starting block that has our name on it. That means that comparisons are counterproductive. There’s no leaderboard to look up at to see who’s in the lead. Finishing times are not important; finishing is the goal.
We do not run our race alone. We have the testimonies of those who’ve come before us to encourage us on to the finish line. We have Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. Furthermore, we have the Holy Spirit equipping us and our spiritual leaders pouring into us. We have our church community coming alongside us. Although our race is unique and no one else can run it, we are not without ample support to not only endure, but to thrive during the journey.
We must prepare ourselves to run our race by setting aside that which would hamper us. These things are not necessarily bad or immoral. They might be neutral or even good things per se but they interfere with our progress and reduce our effectiveness. Social media, for example, has lots of good uses. I stay in touch and connected with the goings on of far-flung family members and friends, share encouragement, and get prayer reminders. All good things. I can also engage in mindless entertainment on social media. A few tiktok videos can lighten the mood but too many videos can steal time away from caring for people. Social media also has a negative side. It can be used to sow division and controversy. Running my races means that I use social media appropriately and do not allow it to hamper my effectiveness.
As we spend time in prayer and fasting, may we pray for endurance to run our race well, including resting and engaging in personal care. May we also pray that our testimony spurs others on to run their race well and that we will be counted among their supporters who are cheering them on toward their finish line. Lastly, may we pray for discernment and wisdom to know what we need to cast aside so that our effectiveness is not hampered.