On my way home from work the song Keep On Running by The Spencer Davies Group (1965), was being played on Radio 2.
Running was always very important to me as a teenager and beyond. I competed at a reasonably high level while at Grammar School and sort of ‘got the running bug’. I wasn’t a sprinter but more a middle- distance runner and remember, vividly, tackling cross country courses often along the North East Coast in the winter months!
I was listening to a couple of ‘experts’ debating the current Covid issues, and one of the guys said in relation to the pandemic, “this is marathon, not a sprint”! I think after what we all have experienced over the last 12 months, we can wholeheartedly agree with him!
The New Testament writers remind us that the Christian life is a long race – BUT we’re not running on our own!
According to Hebrews 12:1-2. We need to do two things if we are to keep going as Christian and so complete the ‘race’ marked out for us. They are flagged up by the two ‘let us’ phrases.
‘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. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2
First, we’re to turn away from distractions, especially the distraction of sin (‘let us throw off everything that hinders’..). Second, we’re to turn instead to look to Jesus. Serious runners make sure that they are not hindered or distracted while they are running. From the equipment they wear to ‘blocking out’ all the distractions going on around them – the stadium, the noise of the crowd, the weather, who might be cheering them on. They have trained hard and have subjected themselves to serious discipline in order to run the race!
This week sees the beginning of Lent, and this time leading up to Easter is a great opportunity for us to make sure of our ‘focus’. It’s easy to be distracted and hindered – over the last 12 months everything seems to have been turned on its head and its easy to lose your focus. But the writer to the Hebrew Christians reminds us that to help keep our focus on Jesus, we are ‘surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses’. For the original readers of Hebrews, these witnesses were the ‘heroes of faith’ mentioned in chapter 11 (and many more), whose faith in God’s promises had sustained them through troubling times and had enabled them to achieve great things in God’s name. For us today, we can also add names from the pages of Church History, along with those in Scripture. All are ‘witnesses’ – like the witness in a court of law, they have evidence to present, and in this case, their testimony concerns Jesus Christ! The purpose of such ‘witnesses’ is not to draw attention to themselves, but to Him! So, wherever you are on your journey of faith, however you might be feeling right now, be encouraged in that you are being ‘cheered on’ so that you might reach the finishing line! So, ‘keep on running’!