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. Hebrews 12: 1,2a (NIV)
More than at almost any other time in history, THIS IS YOUR LIFE! Your life now is not the same as your parent’s or your grandparent’s life when they were your age. This is your life and it is not the exact same life as that of any other person in any other country. This is your life, or as the writer of Hebrews puts it, this is “The race marked out for us.”
When this whole pandemic thing started, people who knew what they were talking about kept telling us that getting through the pandemic was not a sprint, it was a marathon! Well, you know what? They were right! I don’t know about you, but I felt like this whole thing was going to be a temporary inconvenience and everything would soon, at least in 3 or 4 months, be back to normal. Now I am becoming more and more convinced that while we may, in time, return to a way of life that is more familiar, that the “normal” of January 2020 may never be completely seen and experienced ever again.
But then again, that really is nothing new. Talk to your grandparents, your parents, aunts, and uncles about unexpected things that happened to the world while they were growing up and things that happened to them individually that changed their lives, and they will most likely, have a lot to tell you.
That is because, just in the time of Jesus, before him and after him, life has been constantly changing and life has been mostly hard. One of the reasons that I truly love the Bible is that it doesn’t try to hide or sugar-coat what life and faith are like. God’s love and salvation are a real blessing, but life is hard, and living your faith on a daily basis is often very challenging. That is why I really think that the writer of Hebrews gives us some very good advice when he writes that we should focus on running the race, living the life that is marked out for us. We are not called to try to live someone else’s life or spend all our time wishing we had a different life, just to focus on living your own life.
And once we have accepted the reality of “our life,” he then tells us how best to live it. Run with perseverance–hanging in there and understanding it is a long race, is important. It is also important to fix our eyes on Jesus–the one who teaches us what to leave behind and what our goals and priorities should be.
It is often not real complicated, but it is almost always, not easy. God is with you, blessing and guiding you as you run your race. Look to God, learn, and run with perseverance!
Pastor Dennis Niezwaag, July 2020