“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
“Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus”, by Helen H. Lemmel
In the age we now live, running a marathon, participating in a sporting event or competing in an Olympic event has a great appeal. Though these activities require self-discipline, patience and endurance, they ultimately lead to a much coveted reward such as self- esteem, fame or material benefits. The apostle Paul shared in his various writings insights on how to prepare oneself for competitive events. As well, he pointed to potential challenges that a competitor could face. He emphasized that discouragement and trials could be part of any contest and he warned of tough opposition and criticism along the way, as well as the temptation to cheat and be dishonest. To avoid the many pitfalls, he advises the Corinthians to fix their eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay ahead, endured the cross, scorned the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Just as many athletes today know and are motivated by other athletes who achieved greatness, so much that they persevered until they reached their goal or their personal best, Paul reminds us that Jesus and a great cloud of witnesses went before and set an example for us, cheering us on until the end of the race. Even in the face of great suffering and trials, with our eyes fastened on Jesus, we too can lay aside the things in our lives that hinder us on our spiritual journeys and complete the race set out for us.
During this Lenten season, can we challenge ourselves to look inwardly to see what things are hindering our spiritual growth and our witness for Christ? What hinders us from serving Christ and serving others? What hinders us from seeking God’s face and fellowship? I challenge each of us to identify 2 or 3 things in our personal lives that are hindering our progress and lay them aside so that we can run the course and finish the race.
Dear Lord, as we reflect on our purpose and mission in life, we pray for grace to be faithful servants who will follow you faithfully. May we fix our eyes upon you as we cast aside the weights that are distancing us from you. Amen.
– Brenda Awad, GBGM Missionary to Palestine and Israel