“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.”
It’s the start of the race.
There’s a lot on the line. For some of the athletes, this is their ‘do or die trying’. They’ve trained for years for this moment.
It’s finally here.
The stadium, packed with spectators, roars with the applause and cheers of all languages. The air crackles with tension and excitement.
The runners are called to take their marks.
Each adjusts her blocks, setting them exactly as she likes them. Expensive shoes are fitted into their places. Eyes are intense, focused on only one thing.
The finish line.
Then you see it.
One racer looks different than the others.
For one thing, she has a heavy backpack strapped to her shoulders.
For another, one arm holds a heavy bronze lamp and the other, a stack of papers in file folders.
And more interesting still, her legs are strapped to a tangle of shopping carts.
The starter pistol is raised. Crack! The pack is off. And no surprise, the competitor with all the odds and ends attached to her person is really having a rough go of it.
Pretty silly scenario, I know. No one in their right mind would enter an international competition and sabotage themselves so badly.
Or would they?
Friend, what are you dragging onto your race track today?
The files containing all of your past failures?
A stern and critical spotlight on your weaknesses and fears?
Or maybe a backpack stuffed full of hard memories and perceived expectations, and a string of shopping carts piled high with regrets and secret sins.
Girl, let it go.
Let it all go…
See, fall is a great season for reminding us that what is dying or dead already doesn’t need to be carried around anymore. All that deadweight is just weighing us down, hampering our forward momentum and making us awkward.
Scholars don’t all agree on what exactly this ‘crowd of witnesses’ refers to. Some say it is the people in our sphere of influence, watching our progress in this life of faith. Others think it is those who have gone before us who are somehow cheering us on. Whatever the reality is, we do have a crowd of witnesses (just like at the Olympic Games!) and we are running a metaphorical race right at this very moment.
Don’t you want to finish well?
Athletes don’t wear bulky outfits or heavy shoes when they need to be the fastest. So too, we ought to strip away those things which are holding us back from running our race with dignity and strength.
What is tying you down today?
What are the habits holding you back from running your race well?
Take a cue from our forest friends and let something go today. Let it slip right through your fingers.
And to do that – you may need to open that fist of yours…
Let go of one thing that you don’t need to carry anymore with me?
Father, it is good to remember that we need to actively remove what ties us down and holds us back from running our race well. Show us what You want us to let go of, and give us the power to lay it down completely. Amen.