When I was running, I would never take anything with me that was not needed. Trying to run with extra weight could slow me down, wear me out and potentially hold me back from completing the race.
I was reminded of this while reading Hebrews 12:1. “As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has already been marked out before us.”(TPT).
Focus for a moment on the phrase “for the path has already been marked out for us.” When you run a marathon, the route is clearly marked. As long as you stay on that route, you will get to the finish line. If you veer off the course, that’s another story!
The Safe Place
We find in Matthew 4 the account of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. We tend to focus on the fact that Jesus was tempted by Satan; however, there is a very important component in the first verse, one that we cannot afford to miss. It’s that Jesus was led, by the Holy Spirit, into the wilderness. In other words, the path was marked out before Him, just as it is for us. It wasn’t easy and it certainly had temptations along the way. One of the temptations that Satan put in front of Jesus was to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3). I find it so interesting that Satan said to Jesus, “IF you are the son of God…”In other words, prove to me your identity by stepping out of and beyond what God has called you to do in this very moment. In addition, Jesus was hungry, and hunger is a legitimate need. However, at that moment, meeting that need would have steered Him off the very path that God had set before Him and the Holy Spirit had guided Him onto. How often have we been tempted to go just a little bit further, to step past where God has called us just to prove something. In other words, we step off the path. We get ourselves into trouble when we veer off the path that God has marked out for us. The only safe place is staying on God’s path.
Focused and Determined
Going back to Hebrews, focus on the phrase, “run…with passion and determination.”Let’s be real — there are seasons where it is downright difficult to run with passion and determination! However, if we dive into the next verse, we find the key to Jesus’ success. “We look away from the natural realm, and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because His heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be His, He endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!”(Hebrews 12:2 TPT).
Did you catch it? Jesus’ heart was focused on the joy. He didn’t focus on the agony or humiliation. He focused on the finish line. In other words, He was determined to stay on the path that was marked out for Him.
When you run a marathon, you want to find your gait and get into a zone. I loved to pray when I ran. My focus was often on God. If I was carrying extra baggage, i.e. a problem, I worked it through with Him and in essence, left it along the roadside. Those were the most refreshing runs because of where my focus was aimed.
We must learn to see from a spiritual perspective. As the writer of Hebrews states, “We look away from the natural realm and fix our gaze onto Jesus…who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.”When we fasten our gaze on Jesus, it allows us to see the path that has been laid out for us to run the race. When we fasten our gaze on Jesus we do not succumb to the temptation to go past where God has us just to prove something. When we focus our eyes on Jesus, we don’t carry additional baggage because we understand that He already paid the entrance fee for the race and we can run it with joy. When we focus our eyes on Jesus and tiredness, fear or discouragement comes knocking, we can lean into Him knowing that He will strengthen us, help us and hold us up (Isaiah 41:10).
Remember, every thought that Jesus has and every decision that He makes about our lives is perfect. He can be trusted even when we don’t understand.
How are you running your race? Are you on the path that God has ordained for you, or do you need to make course corrections?
No matter what, know that you are loved and that the Lord is right there ready to guide you along the path. Just grab His hand!