Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, – Hebrews 12:1
This is not a particularly deep post, but since I am not a particularly deep person, I hope it will still be helpful.
So much of life is a matter of perspective with the right perspective often leading to the right behavior. Unfortunately, we often focus on changing the way that we DO things when we really need to start by changing the way we SEE things. A great example of this is found in the verse above. There are some facts listed followed by the perspective that allows the reader (that’s us) to engage with those facts in the best way possible.
1. There are many (a cloud of witnesses) who have gone before us. This is important to keep in mind when we feel like we are the only ones who have ever done “this”-whatever “this” is. It is so easy to for us to pull inward when life and circumstances become difficult and to come to the conclusion that “no one understands.” We need to focus on the future without forgetting the past. History should not cause us to long for a past that we either did not live or lived but cannot reclaim. History, an understanding of the past, should help to guide us forward. We learn the lessons of those who have gone before us while tapping in to a lineage and legacy of others who did difficult things in their own lifetime. As Solomon said, “There is no new thing under the sun.” That is a fact and one of which we need to take hold.
2. Not everything in our life is helpful or productive. In fact, some things are just dead weight preventing us from being our best. Again, this is a fact. It doesn’t matter who you are or how productive you are, we need to recognize that there is a constant tension in life between what we can do and what we should do. Between what is helpful and what is just getting in our way. Not everything needs our attention. Some things are just “weight”.
3. There is also sin. This is different than “weight” which is not necessarily good or bad. Sin is anything that contradicts God’s revealed will. God reveals His will through scripture and when we live contrary to that will, we sin. The funny thing about sin is that it doesn’t always feel like sin. We need to accept the fact, however, that following our will instead of God’s is sin and will always take us in the wrong direction. The verse says that sin “besets us”. It keeps us from accomplishing all that we were created to accomplish. To put this in modern lingo, sin prevents us from living up to our potential. Again, this is a fact.
4. We are in a race. Whether we like it or not, whether we want to admit it or not, we are in a race. This verse is obviously not speaking of a physical race, but the race of life on a path that has a beginning and an end. This is a fact that should cause us to take life seriously as we understand that there is a goal. Every race has a finish line and we are getting a little closer to that line every day.
5. We do not get to pick the race. This is a key fact in this verse. It is the race “set before us.” We are running a race laid out in front of us by God. This removes so much of the pressure we feel in life because we simply need to run well instead of worrying about the path that we are on.
1. While we are not responsible for everything, we are responsible for some things. This is an important perspective. Many in this life view themselves as the victims of circumstance and situations beyond their control. Not only did they not pick the race, they believe that there is nothing they can do to impact how it turns out. Addressing both “weight” and “sin”, this verse tells us that we must, “lay aside.” We may not be responsible for the race we are in, but we are responsible for eliminating the things in our life that would keep us from running it well! This is a perspective shift that can change everything. YOU MUST BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU!
2. This race we are in is a running race not a walking race! The perspective is this: Don’t approach this life with fear, caution or timidity. Run! You are in the race and you only get one shot. Make the most of it. Learn. Grow. Produce. Push. Rest if you must but don’t ever give up!
3. This race is for running, but not for sprinting. “Run with PATIENCE.” This is a race that ends when we’re dead. Have you ever known someone that at one time looked like they would change the world but ended up simply fading away? What happened? Often, fading away or burning out is the consequence of taking a short view of the race. Not realizing that this was a long race that will require patience to complete, they sprinted off the starting line and quickly lost the ability to keep moving forward. Running with patience does not mean that we lack intensity as we live. It means that we take a long view and invest deeply in things (relationships, projects, goals) that will take time to really produce. A lack of patience leads to frustration which often leads to giving up and getting by. We are in the race whether we like it or not. We need to decide to make the most of each step.
4. Perhaps the most important perspective in this verse is found in the final word-“us”. The race that is set before us. Your race is your race. My race is mine. I can’t run yours and you can’t run mine. Comparison destroys so many. We feel like we are not accomplishing all that someone else is or that we don’t have the same gifts and opportunities. Our perspective needs to change. I AM ONLY RESPONSIBLE TO RUN THE RACE SET BEFORE ME. We can help each other, but I am ultimately only responsible for the way I run. When we stop comparing our progress with that of others, we are finally free to run our race.
God created you with talents and will provide to you opportunities that align to all He intends to accomplish with your life. Remove anything that will keep you moving forward, patiently run a race that will last a lifetime and know that as you do those who have gone before are cheering you on. You are in a race. Run well.