Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Do you cringe when you read truth like that in the Bible. Hebrews 12:1 is one of those verses that gets me every time. It's inspiring and convicting all at once.
I love the idea that we are all in this race together. We are all here to support each other. That's a comforting feeling, and I am proud to run this race with my Radius family.
But then there's that thing about sin. Paul tells us to strip off the weight; to get rid of the sin. Something in that always hits me in the gut. Perhaps it's the reminder that I still have sin in my life. Perhaps it's the memories it conjures when I hear the word sin and I flash back to those times in my life when I have completely and utterly failed.
Or, maybe it's the simplicity of the statement.
When Paul says to let it all go, it makes so much sense. Yes, if I am going to run a race, why would I want to carry a backpack full of rocks and bricks? Why would I want to carry with my all my fears, guilt and shame? Wouldn't life be easier - couldn't I run a better race - if I just threw it all to the side and left it in the dust?
So I resolve to do just that. I let it go. I free myself from the burdens of my past.
But then it comes back. Somewhere along the line I pick up my back pack and put it back on without even thinking about it.
The cycle continues.
Why does that happen?
I get to where I am feeling like I am running the race the right way, and then I see a butterfly or a little shiny object. That little distraction leads to a bigger distraction, and then a bigger one and if I'm not careful, I can run right off the track and out of the stadium like a lost sheep.
So for me, I have to stay on guard and ignore the butterflies. I have to recognize that shiny objects are just that, nothing more.
I have to keep my focus on Jesus.
I can't tell you how to do that, but I can tell you what I do.
Pray: It's not always the easiest things to do, and there are times that I dread it, but it's the best way to keep your focus on God and see the reality of a situation.
Read: I'm referring to the Bible, not Buzzfeed or Facebook. Getting in the Word and filling your head with truth keeps the bad stuff out. It allows you to see the world through a clear lens and opens the door to God speaking into you.
Listen: Find some podcasts of messages or conversations about positive things. Figure out who is saying the stuff that you need to hear. If you're not sure, ask your pastor.
Attend: Show up to Radius, or whatever church you go to. Get around the people running the race with you. Listen to them. Share with them. Encourage and be encouraged. Join a Radius Home or small group and start building real relationships with people who genuinely care about you and want to see you succeed.
Serve: One of the biggest things sin does is keeps us selfish. We worry about what others think of us. We start to think the world revolves around us and everything everyone does is done to hurt us or otherwise affect us in some way. Serving forces your eyes onto others and allows you to see the truth.
Doing these things has certainly helped me stay on course, or not veer too far off course. They also help me recognize when I have picked up my backpack full of sin and reminds me to cast it off again.
The secret to winning the race is to keep your eyes on Jesus.
Ignore that temptation to focus solely on your self. If you're too busy looking down at your shoes, you're eventually going to end up on the ground.
Don't compare yourself to others. They've got their own race to run and you don't know their whole story. Just because they look like they are ahead of you (or behind you) that doesn't mean they are. It just means God is working things out with them the same way he is with you.
Lastly, ignore those obstacles in front of you. Worrying about them right now is only going to slow you down. You'll have plenty of time to deal with the obstacles when you get to them; if they are even still an obstacle at that point.
Stay focused on the goal. Keep your eyes planted on Jesus and run faster than you've ever run before.
We are here with you. We want to see you win. We want to celebrate your victory.
You are a legend.
So let's go!