The writer of Hebrews exhorts readers to emulate biblical heroes by running the race of faith with the great cloud of witnesses and the list of those mentioned in chapter 11. They were people who experienced lives of faithfulness that we too are challenged to live. We know of so many examples of people who have trusted God who is always our refuge and way-maker. We are not the first to face trials and tribulations in our faith journeys. Our ancestors faced the same challenges. No doubt they ran with faith and crossed the finish line! How can we lay aside every weight? Our weight is anything that can hinder the (Christian) runners. It may be good to rid ourselves of any bad habits that may hold us back spiritually. The list may be endless. Other things may hold us back from doing God’s will such as the use of our time and our relationships. Relationships can, in contrast, make the resources for our work better known. Faith provides assurance of things hoped for in such a wonderful race to help others through our service to God.
How can we prepare ourselves to run this race? Prayer and Bible study and self-examination of habits that impede our progression help us from day-to-day as Christian workers. With faith and the love of God, we can actually visit strangers, minister to the sick, find housing, feed the hungry, clothe the needy, encourage others, confess our sins and seek God’s forgiveness.
Christians must understand how God designs the course for us in such a race of faith. As we run, it is good if it is done with patience which is a steady determination to complete the task that lies ahead of us. Let us continue to seek God’s guidance and strength daily. We can look to God through Jesus while we are still running. Jesus our super model of faith ran His race perfectly. The author of Hebrews tells us how Jesus must be our example in facing trials. He can always lead us as He looked beyond the cross to the joy that would come after that time.
When running a race of faith, instead of focusing on earthly discomforts, let us look to spiritual rewards. We can read Hebrews and learn how Jesus occupies an exalted place in the heavenly realm and how Christians will share in Christ’s reward when the race is completed. The letter to Hebrews reminded the first century Christians that their difficulties did not compare to the sufferings of Jesus. This letter was written to encourage us too. The book of Hebrews reminds us that we have a responsibility to encourage each other and to help those who are weak. Just as the early Christians tried to leave a straight path for others to follow, let us continue to look at our own lives to see examples that make it easier for others to believe and follow Jesus!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.