This past week, I participated in a fundraiser that took me 404 miles on my bicycle. We went from Weirton, W.Va. to Cumberland, Md. and back. Although the scenery was breathtaking, so was the pedaling.
It reminded me of the Scripture that said, "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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1-2)."
Our lives are referred to as races. This Scripture reminds us how races are run and won. First, our lives need to undergo a spiritual weight reduction. That means that we need to let go of unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, jealousy, anger, rage, sexual impurity and selfish ambition. Holding on to these things will not only slow down your race, they have the potential of completely taking you out.
Second, we need to run with perseverance. Staying the course through difficulties is a must. There will be times of fatigue, times you'll want to throw in the towel and times you'll want to turn around and go back the way you came. We had a saying out on the trail, "When tired, don't look up." It can be discouraging to look up and see the distance that must be covered. Sometimes the best thing to focus on is just sticking one foot in front of the other. Let God take you through your life one day at a time.
Third, run for an audience of "One." Don't just run towards Jesus, run for Jesus. Fix your eyes on His love for you. A love that endured the cross for you. A love that took on the worst this world can dish out, for your sake. Let His love propel you forward in life. Don't take your eyes off of it.
Question time: Where does your spiritual life need to shed a few pounds? It's hard to run life's race when weighed down by things like unforgiveness, hatred, sexual impurity, etc You might want to do a spiritual weigh-in sometime soon. How is your perseverance right now? Feel like giving up? Try taking life a day at a time. Learn to trust God with your life. How many people are you running for? In other words, how many people are you trying to impress with your life. The more people you try to impress, the more difficult it is to run. Aim to focus on and please Jesus. He's the one who should matter most anyway, right? Just some questions to help you run better. We're all in it to win it. Let's make sure we're doing it right.
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)