…And let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
— Hebrews 12:1
When I was a younger man, I had a friend who would meet me each evening, and we’d jog together for about an hour. I had never been a runner, so when we first started jogging, it was very difficult for me and I’d get easily discouraged. My friend was a little younger than I and definitely in better shape, so he’d say, “Come on, Rick, you can do it! Keep going!” What was at first a very difficult jog eventually became a regular and fairly easy daily event. In fact, I looked forward to the doorbell ringing each evening so I could meet my friend and run our course together.
The neighborhood Denise and I lived in wasn’t exactly pristine; in fact, it was not a good area of town. So if I ran a little too long and came in a little later than expected, it would bother her. To alleviate Denise’s concerns, my jogging buddy decided he would drive through the neighborhood, chart a course, and measure it in miles so we’d know the exact distance that course included. I never had to think about where we were going to run, and Denise would know where to look for me if I didn’t come home on time. Running that predetermined course not only gave Denise a greater measure of peace, but it also helped me because I had a prearranged race set before me that helped me pace myself for the run. My friend chose the route, the length, and the amount of time it would take us to run. All that was required of me was to run the race he had set for me.
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Often as I ran that course, I thought of Hebrews 12:1, which urges us, “…Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Today I want to talk to you about running the race Jesus has set before you. Just as my buddy set a prearranged course for me, this verse declares that Jesus has set a pre-appointed course for your race in this life. And believe me when I say that you’re not smart enough to figure out your own course by yourself! But Jesus has gone ahead of you; He has prearranged the course; and now He pleads with you to run the race He has set before you.
Let’s begin by looking at the word “run.” It is a translation of the Greek word trechos, which means to run. This is not fast walking — this is running. This is a picture of a person who has jumped into the race and is pressing ahead with all his might to reach a goal set before him. He is running at such a pace that both feet never hit the ground at the same time. With his eyes fixed on the finish line, he makes a run for it, steadily moving forward toward the goal. The fact that it requires such effort tells us that this race may not always be easy. That’s why the verse goes on to tell us that we must run it with “patience.”
The word “patience” is the Greek word hupomeno, a word that is used over and over in the New Testament to describe endurance. It is a compound of the words hupo, meaning to be under, and the word meno, which means to abide or to stay in one spot. When these two words are compounded, it forms the word hupomeno, which pictures the attitude of a person who is under a very heavy load but has decided to stay put and stand firm. He refuses to move from his commitment, regardless how difficult the challenges that are placed upon him.
Starting anything is always the fun, easy part of a project, whereas finishing requires a commitment to endure until it is completed. This process can be so challenging that Hebrews 12:1 calls it a “race” — the Greek word agona, which is most often translated to struggle or to wrestle. A form of this word is where we get the word “agony.”
How is wrestling connected to a race? It does seem like a mixed picture, doesn’t it? But you have to remember that in order to stay in a race, especially a long one, a wrestling in your emotions may be involved as your mind screams at you to throw in the towel and quit. The soul can begin to wrestle with you when weariness sets in — screaming that the race is too difficult, that it’s taking longer than you expected, or that it’s requiring more effort than you originally bargained for. Thus, the use of this Greek word agona really makes the point regarding how intense our struggle with the mind and emotions can be.
But you can rejoice that just as my jogging buddy charted a course for me, you don’t have to figure out on your own the path that will lead you to your destination! Jesus has chosen your route for you. What is required of you is to jump in the race and run with all your might — fixing your eyes on Jesus and the goal He has set before you. That’s why the verse says we must run with patience the race that was “set before” us.
The words “set before” are a translation of the Greek word prokeimenon, which is a compound of the words pro, meaning before, and the word keimai, which means to be set, to be appointed, or to be established. Compounded into one word, as used here in Hebrews 12:1, the new word describes a race course that has been predetermined for you by someone else. That “Someone” is Jesus, who has appointed a goal for your life and who has even pre-established the course you need to run to get there! Just as my jogging buddy charted the course for me, Jesus has gone before us and has established the race for us. We’re not smart enough to figure out how to reach God’s goal for our lives, so Jesus has taken care of that part for us. He just needs our willingness to jump into the race and run with all our might — keeping our eyes on the goal!
I want to encourage you that Jesus has already gone before you, and He is beckoning you to run your race with all your might. It’s very possible that weariness will try to set in at times and that your mind and emotions will wrestle with you, telling you to quit. Your emotions may even tell you that the entire endeavor is just not worth it because it’s so much more than you bargained for when you began.
But quitting is not the answer. Jesus didn’t give you a goal you cannot reach! Just shove your negative emotions out of the way by setting the focus of your mind and heart on Him. Make a determined decision that you are going to stay put in the race, and then make a run for it! Once you get moving, the Holy Spirit will give you supernatural momentum. You’ll find yourself speeding down the track toward your goal, getting closer and closer all the time!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the Person of the Holy Spirit, who positioned me in this race and who now empowers me to stay in the race until I reach completion. You are fair, Father, and You wouldn’t give me a goal I couldn’t reach. So when my mind and emotions argue with me, telling me that the finish line is too difficult to reach, I thank You that You’ve given me the mind of Christ that enables me to rule over my emotions. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured in His race, and I thank You that I can do the same thing! I receive Your precious gift of divine strength that empowers me so that nothing moves me. I set my focus on Jesus and strive for the mastery, running according to Your ways so I can reach my goal. I can achieve whatever You have told me to do, Father, because Jesus has gone before me and prepared the way!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God’s plan for my life holds only victory. He has made total provision for me to fulfill what He has called me to do through Jesus Christ. God has not called me to quit; therefore, I will not quit this race that I am running right now. He has already prepared me for this task. I will run my race; I will stay in the fight; and I will reach the finish line that Jesus has prearranged for me. I take the path He prepared ahead of time, and I will live the life He has made ready for me to live. Quitting is not an option. Therefore, I will say no to my flesh. I say no to the devil’s attempts to insert thoughts of doubt that defy the word of the Lord for my life. I can and I will do what God has asked me to do. I will run this race to completion and finish my course with joy!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What is the goal that Jesus Christ has set before your life? Can you write it out on a piece of paper well enough that you could communicate it clearly to someone else?
- Do you have intermediate goals on the way to your final goal? Thinking of the intermediate goals you have already met along the way may encourage you to keep going, so which of these goals have you already reached on the way to completing your course?
- How do you encourage yourself when you grow weary or when the devil tries to attack you mentally or emotionally? What do you say or do to stir yourself up to stay in the race?
- Can you think of a specific person you know who needs your encouragement right now so he or she is strengthened to keep pressing forward in the race of faith?