Today’s New Testament lesson (Hebrews 11:32-12:2) offers these well-known words:
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 set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (12:1-2)
Of course, as inspiring and motivating as they are on their own, these words take on an added dimension, I think, if we consider them in the context that precedes them. Having spent all of chapter 11 describing the heroes of faith, the writer has this to say:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us (emphasis added) would they be made perfect. (11:39-40)
Allow me to “spin” that like this: Our God is planning the greatest celebration that creation has ever known. The A-List of “biblical heroes” will be there — along with all the “personal heroes” who have nurtured your faith, encouraged you, and shown you what it means to be a follower of Christ. Naturally, Jesus will be there; for He is the “Life” of the party. But here’s the thing. The party can’t begin — the promise won’t be complete — until you’re there, too. That’s why we throw off everything that hinders, and that’s why we run the race. That’s why we look to Jesus — longing not only for the day when we will see His face — but yearning for that day when “God’s dwelling place will be among the people; and He will dwell with them…and be their God” (Rev. 21:3)
May God’s Spirit empower you to “run with perseverance” today, as you look forward to the Promise whose fulfillment awaits.