Keep On Keeping On! (Hebrews 12:1-3) – PART 3
II. The Pace of the Race
For many people, running is an intimidating sport. It’s not the idea of running that’s frightening. After all, we were made to use our feet in this way, so running requires little advanced instruction. The hang up for many people is the pace. They become overwhelmed, thinking, “Sure, I could make it to the mailbox or maybe the end of the street. But what about everything after that?” Many times we don’t set the New Year’s goals we should, whether to be more faithful to personal devotions or to become a closer-knit family, because, when we think of all that is involved to reach those goals, we become overwhelmed. But God will not try us above what we’re able to do. His pace is sustainable, and He designed this race to be obtainable. He wants everyone to be a winner.
A. It’s a set pace.
Hebrews 12:1, …and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Notice we are to run the race, “set before us.” Our life race is specific. No one runs forever. Every day is a gift from God, and there is a set length of time that we are given to be on the earth. James 4:14, Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Paul knew that the only life worth living was the one in which we run our best race with God every day. II Timothy 4:6–8, For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Life is short. Live it to the fullest for Jesus Christ. Don’t squander the time you have on earth trying to run someone else’s course or comparing yourself to others; rather, invest your life wisely for Him.
B. It’s a steady pace.
Hebrews 12:1, let us run with patience.
Hebrews 12:1 not only instructs us to run, but how to run: “let us run with patience.” Runners training for a marathon are often advised to begin slowly, gradually adding miles to their weekly runs but keeping a consistent pace to avoid early burnout. While sprinting is suitable for covering short distances quickly, applying that mindset to a longer race will only result in fatigue and failure. Just as in a marathon, the Christian’s race is won one step at a time. It was not meant to be a sprint; that pace is unsustainable for a lifetime. We must find a steady pace and be patient to keep at it. You don’t have to read the whole Bible by January 3. You don’t have to develop a lifetime habit of personal devotions in a single week. You just have to keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other. If we are patient and faithful, although each day may not show impressive progress, by this time next year we will rejoice in discovering how far we’ve come. One thing is certain as we set out on our race: there will be trials. And we must be patient when they come. James 1:2–3, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. That word patience means “steadfastness, constancy, or endurance.” In the New Testament, it describes a person who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose. No matter how difficult trials may be, God can use them to strengthen us. Things that you never could have foreseen will present themselves in this next year, and they may threaten to derail your progress or to distract you from your purpose. Be patient; determine that you will not be swayed from your purpose. God has a plan, and it is not a plan to cause you grief or harm; it is a plan to develop you, for your good and His glory, into the person He made you to be. God’s great men experienced plenty of trials, and they also had times of testing; Abraham, Joshua, Paul, and many others were tested in their faith. In these times we must be patient as well. James 5:8, Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
In Athens, long ago, games used to be held in honor of Grecian gods. One such game was the torch race, a race of torchbearers, run at night in honor of Prometheus, the god of fire. The starting point was a mile and a half outside the city, in the olive grove where Plato met with his Academy and where a sanctuary to Prometheus was built. The winner was not necessarily the first runner who reached the finish line. The winner was the runner who first reached the finish line with his torch still burning. Running with a burning torch requires pacing and patience. This year, keep your torch, the light of your testimony of the Gospel of Christ, lit as you run your race. Run with patience, stay in love with Jesus, and be faithful to God. If you can do these things despite the trials and testing that will surely come your way, you will be victorious.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship with Christ.