Today’s passage brings to mind a vivid image from a friend and fellow minister, envisaging the ‘cloud of witnesses’ as the crowd in a packed stadium, watching the end of an epic marathon.
In my recent Edinburgh run, it was great to see spectators cheering us on, holding signs saying ‘I’m proud of you, random stranger’ and ‘Run like you’ve stolen something’ which raised a smile as well as showing support.
The reading also chimes with my experience of watching elite sport, where the athlete has a set expression on their face, focused on the task, almost oblivious to the cheering yet still carried along by it.
If intensity of vision and focus can do so much for an athlete to remain ‘in the zone’ and achieving great things, how much more should we, who seek to follow Jesus, be focused on Him — looking back and remembering what he did and went through, and where he ends up: at the right hand of God.
Intensity of vision and focus can do so much for an athlete to remain ‘in the zone’ and to achieve great things. If so, how much more should we, who seek to follow Jesus, be focused on Him? We can look back and remember what he did and went through, and where he ends up: at the right hand of God. Our Monday reading of Psalm 77 pointed to former days, to remembering previous help and training to keep us going. Remembering Jesus — we who run, who want to run, or who think we could never run, can nonetheless run our life-race without losing heart or growing weary.
We look to you, God — a Father who gives good gifts —
enable us to use those gifts well
training and practicing
using them, helping others.
We look to you, Jesus — a Self-giving Son —-
who had a path marked out for him
leading through opposition, shame and Cross
to joy and glory.
We look to you, Spirit — a pace-making Encourager —
who prompts our muscle-memory
who maintains our focus
who affirms that we can run this
we can reach and exceed previous achievements.
We look about us, with eyes of faith
seeing the heavenly stadium packed with saints
giving words of wisdom
‘Throw off the chains’
‘Your sin is dealt with’
‘Jesus did what was needed’
We look back, look forward, and remember
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint”
Thank you God
Keep us running, with you.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.