A friend of mine is one of those crazy runners. You know the type—fifteen miles a day, marathons, pilgrimages to his favorite running routes all over the country, an obsession with breaking personal records, or in fanatical running lingo, his “PRs.” Even his family gets in on it. They cheer. They shout. They encourage. Which he needs because my friend isn’t getting any younger. He says he’s trying to outrun old age. (I think he might have to run quite a bit faster!)
But don’t you want to know why anyone would want to do this to his body? I asked my friend recently what he likes about running. “The finish line,” he said. And there you have it. He runs because he has the finish in sight. It motivates him to keep putting one blistered foot in front of the other. I guess we can all understand that to some degree. If we can remember our purpose, we can be motivated to improve our practice.
Pay attention to the words of Hebrews 12:1–2. “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.”
As believers we are compared to runners in a race who are cheered on by a “cloud of witnesses.” We are to throw off anything that would hinder us from winning—or finishing—the race. We are to persevere. We are to follow the course and stay within the set parameters of the race. But don’t miss the note about the finish. We are to fix our eyes on whom? We are to fix our eyes on Jesus. He is our focal point in this metaphorical race. He is the reason we run. Why we persevere. Why we stay spiritually unencumbered.
But have you ever found yourself “rubbernecking” as you run? Instead of looking ahead to Jesus, you look side to side or behind you to see what’s going on with someone else, some place else. I have. And when I do, I lose my “finish focus.”
What do I mean by “finish focus?” A “finish focus” is when a runner rounds the last turn and sees and hears the crowd cheering. My crazy runner friend, the one I told you about, has this “finish focus” when he sees his family. He’s rejuvenated. And he presses on with a new perspective about the race.
Shouldn’t we? If you find your spiritual shoulders slumping and your eyes cast down, look up. Jesus is at the finish, cheering you on. Let Him change your perspective. Let Him rejuvenate you. Make Him your “finish focus.” Think and act in light of eternity. And until you meet Jesus at the end of a long, hard run, persevere, and look to the cloud of witnesses, who are your fellow believers in Christ, cheering you on to the finish line.
Together we will not lose sight of why we run this race.
About the Contributors
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. His leadership as president and now Chancellor Emeritus of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and his wife Cynthia, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.