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. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

Quite some time ago, I was sitting at the kitchen table and noticed a box of gluten free crackers setting there with this on the label: “live fully.” After some thought, I realized the brand was saying to gluten free people that their product was a good enough replacement for what the gluten free person has had to miss out on in their diet, that they could once again “live fully” by using this line of products. In the living of life, people everywhere pursue things they think are missing from their lives in the hope that those things will help them live fully.

Wanting a full life is a universal desire, but what makes life full varies from person to person. What is in your life that you have worked for that is on your personal list of things that make life full? What is it that’s on your list that is still missing from your life that you yearn to add to your life to make it more full? That “dream list” that we have for ourselves is often the central culprit for why we don’t really live fully. How many people get to the end of their lives and realize the life they lived included things they shouldn’t have lived for at all, things they should have lived for more fully, and things they should have lived for and missed all together?

As followers of Christ we understand the shift that comes to us through redemption. We are called to move away from the pursuit of “living fully” for ourselves to “living fully” for God. But even so, our “Dream List” of the past often trips us up and slows us down. We are no longer in the “rat race” of life but in the “race set before us” by God. Today’s Scripture calls us to run this race with “endurance.” We are so prone to growing weary and getting worn down and we become susceptible to defaulting back to the “dream list.” For most of us our dream lists are filled will things that have to do with our personal comfort. Gaining, maintaining, and adding new comforts is what the “rat race” of life is all about.

Comfort is not what the “race set before us” is all about. God’s “race” is all about the advancement of his kingdom and not the advancement of earthly life. Truly, we have need of endurance and the key to endurance is found in “keeping our eyes on Jesus.” As we keep the eyes of our heart fixed on Jesus and his immediate presence in our lives we will know his strength and encouragement to keep running the race set before us. His presence will remind us of how he endured when he was here on earth accomplishing our redemption. Our passage says, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

With our eyes on Jesus, we will anticipate the joy awaiting us at the end of the race, where we will know that we have lived fully for God when he says, “well done.” It will mean we did not settle for the lesser life of living for our own comfort and security. It will mean we chose a life of living sacrificially for God’s kingdom where people and relationships were the priority as God used us to bless them in ways that count for eternity. The “joy” of the finish line can truly help us endure so that we keep running well the race God has set before us.

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, I see myself in the middle of the shift from just living fully to living fully for you. Help me let go of the rat race and set my feet squarely on your kingdom track. Teach me “endurance through joy” so that I can run the race well and finish the race well. I want to live fully for you to the end. Amen!