This morning in church, I was challenged with Hebrews 12:1-2:
“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 faith.”
SINCE WE ARE SURROUNDED BY SUCH A GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES
I think about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Peter, Paul, and a host of witnesses in heaven and all the Scriptures associated with what hindered and entangled them. I can hear them shouting from the gates of Heaven, surrounding the throne of Jesus, “We’ve been there! Stop! Throw off the hindrances and entangling sin! Run the race God has for you! Fixate on Jesus!”
THROW OFF THE HINDRANCES AND ENTANGLING SIN!
When I read that verse this morning, the Holy Spirit instantly brought two leeches to mind. Hurt and disappointment. People will eventually hurt and disappoint you. Yes, even the best of people. You will ultimately hurt and disappoint people. Yes, even you! Those you are close to who hurt and disappoint you hinder the most. Why? You expect more. You expected them to love and honor. Their hurtful and lack of loving words keep circling in your head. Their disappointing or deficient actions cycle in your heart. Those instances can trample years of life-giving words and actions. Those hurts and disappointments cling to your soul like blood-sucking leeches, forever thirsting and unsatisfied. Hebrews says they “so easily entangle.” As harmful as they are, and as much as you’d think we would avoid them, it’s easy to dwell in hurt and disappointment. Apathy, complacency, and bitterness can blaze a trail, set up camp, and build a fortified city around your heart, soul, mind, and strength.You must choose to throw them off of your soul – evict them with a vengeance! For me, others’ hurtful, disappointing words and actions turned into personal sins of worry and angst. How dare we allow them to trespass on our souls! Today, I hurled those hurts, disappointments, and sins off to the grace-filled cross of Jesus through forgiveness, surrender, and trust in God.
RUN THE RACE GOD HAS FOR YOU
As a runner, I know from experience what you wear and consume affects you tremendously. Clothes that chafe and restrict can cause you to give up early and have pain for days to follow. Food and drink you aren’t used to consuming during a run can upset your digestive system and send you searching for a restroom. You and I will never run the race God has marked out for us while stuck in hindrances and sin. As long as we breathe on this side of eternity, God has a race marked out for you and me to run. The problem is we suit up and line up at the wrong starting line when entangled with hindrances and sin. While we may be running, it’s backward, in circles, and facing the wrong finish line. It’s like trying to run a race with a 150 lb rucksack on your back and concrete-filled shoes! You grow weary and give up running way early in the race. Throwing off hindrances and sin helps us run light, free, and focused. Once free and focused, you can give your full attention to God’s plans ahead instead of hurt and disappointment behind. FIXATE ON JESUS!Allowing hurt and disappointment to remain takes your focus off more than Jesus’ path for your life – they take your focus off Jesus Himself! When you take your mind off the finish line (Jesus and His pleasure), you might as well give up because any step after that is futile. That’s the agony of defeat. However, when you fix your mind back on Jesus, you experience the surge of His presence, provision, and power! That’s the thrill of victory! Fixating on hurt and disappointment will cause you to run the wrong race, blame others when running gets tough or blurry, and stop spending time with Jesus. Instead of centering daily on Jesus, you can become preoccupied, even consumed with what others have done/not done and said/not said. Think about it: what someone may have said/done in 5 minutes can rob you from your time with Jesus and His perfect plan for your life for weeks, months, and YEARS!
What’s hindering you?
Are you running the right race?
Are you still looking at Jesus?
Throw off the hurt and disappointment. Hurl them far. Don’t pick them back up. Run fast and far from them. Turn toward Jesus. Let Him carry your burden. Keep fixated on Jesus. He pioneered and perfected our faith.
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.