S103P1 – Our daily encouragement: the race is ours to win

I have asked some brothers and sisters to identify the verses that bring them encouragement when they need it, the ones that come to mind first and often.  This devotion series is comprised of those passages, and I hope that you can gain new encouragement and revelation from them in the days to come.

Heb. 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Mom and dad were excited for that night’s awards ceremony, where they had heard their daughter would receive a trophy.  She was not the best runner, and they had not seen her run much or win much, but this was a proud and unexpected moment for them.  One by one, the awards were given for the athlete who won the most or set the best time or contributed the most points at their meets.  When it came time for their daughter to be given her award, all of the athletes were brought to the stage.  You see, she was not the fastest or the winningest.  She had barely made the team, and half of them did not know her name.  The award she received was for participation, and everyone received that same award.  What started as a night of pride left her parents unhappy and disappointed because simply participating was not a “win” in their eyes.

The idea of being recognized just for showing up and participating, especially when the activity is a competition in which the goal is to win, seems rather absurd.  Yet, this is what the Father requires of us.  While we run a race of faith in this life, it is not up to us to win.  Jesus already won by virtue of his sacrifice and resurrection.  Victory already is secured.  Those who participate in this race are not trying for the fastest time or to lap their opponents.  Some will finish before us, and others will finish after us.  This race is not about speed but about endurance, and God is looking for those who will endure the work until the race is finished.  We can run the race poorly and still finish, or we can try our best.  Although we should desire to give our best, we must understand that all who finish will have victory.

This passage tells us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  Other translations state that He is the perfecter of our faith.  Regardless of the translation we select, it is clear that He has laid out these races for us according to his design.  My race might look a little different than yours because God will call us to different things, but the goal of our performance remains the same.  It should be our desire to please the Lord by running the race faithfully for his purposes.  We do not need to fear losing.  We do not need to question our strength or stamina.  Jesus gives us both the victory and the resources we need to run with honor and power.  Father, help us to see the individual courses that You have laid before us, that we would run our races with the confidence of your victory, endurance and strength.