Run Your Race With All Your Might!November 24, 2014
November is a month in the U.S. in which Thanksgiving is celebrated as a time that’s set aside to thank God for His many blessings. Although we should maintain an attitude of thankfulness at all times, this is the month when we are especially stirred to remember all that we’ve been given and to thank God as well as the many others who have helped and blessed us along the way in life.
So before I write anything else in this letter…I want to say THANK YOU for everything you do, whether through your prayers or your financial giving, to help us fulfill the ministry assignment God has given us for the former Soviet Union. The Lord certainly has done and is doing great things on behalf of the precious Russian-speaking people in this part of the world. Also, thank you for taking a few minutes of your time to read this letter. I believe it will encourage your heart!
Let me begin by telling you a story. When I was a younger man, I had a friend who would meet me each evening at approximately 10:00 p.m., and we would jog together for about an hour. I had never been a runner before we began jogging together, so when we first started, it was very difficult for me and I would become easily discouraged. My friend was a little younger than me and definitely in better shape. He would say to me, “Come on, Rick — keep going — you can do it!”
Eventually, what was at first a very difficult jog became a fairly easy routine for me. In fact, I began looking forward to the doorbell ringing each evening so I could meet my friend and we could run together.
The neighborhood Denise and I lived in at that time was pretty bad, and when my friend and I ran a little too long, she would feel troubled in her mind. So to alleviate her concerns, my jogging buddy decided he would drive through the neighborhood, chart a course, and measure it in miles so we would know exactly how many miles that course included. That way, we never had to think about where we were going to run, and Denise would know where to look for us if we didn’t come home on time.
Having that predetermined course gave Denise added peace, and it also helped me, because I had a course set before me so I could pace myself for the run. My friend chose the route and the length of the course, and he calculated the amount of time it would take us to run it. Really, all that was required of me was that I run the race my friend had set for me!
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.” In this month’s teaching letter, I want to talk to you about running the race that Jesus has set before YOU. Just as my buddy set a pre-appointed course for me, this verse declares that Jesus has set a pre-appointed course for your race in life. Jesus has gone ahead of you, He has set the course, and now He pleads with you to “run” the race that He has set before you.
Let’s look at the word “run” for a moment. It’s a translation of the Greek word trechos, which portrays a person who has jumped into a race and is bolting ahead with all his might to reach a goal that has been set before him. This person is moving at such a fervent pace that both of his feet never hit the ground at the same time as he runs purposefully toward the goal. With his eyes fixed on the finish line, he dashes toward it, moving steadily toward his desired destination.
The fact that this race requires such effort tells us that it might not always be run easily. That’s why the verse goes on to tell us we must run it with “patience.”
The word “patience” in Hebrews 12:1 is translated from 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 meno, meaning to abide or to stay in one spot. When these two words are put together, they form the word hupomeno. Hupomeno portrays the attitude of a person who is under a very heavy load — but he decides to stay put and stand firm, and he refuses to move from his commitment regardless of the difficult challenges that are placed upon him.
I’m sure you and I could agree that starting anything is always the easy and fun part of a project. But finishing something requires a commitment to endure to the end.
What about this “enduring” process? It can be so intensely agonizing that Hebrews 12:1 calls it a “race.” The word “race” is translated from the Greek word stragne, which comes from the word agona. Agona means to struggle or to wrestle.
How is wrestling connected to a race? It seems like a mixed picture until you remember that to stay in a race, especially a long one, it may involve a wrestling going on in your emotions as they scream out to you to throw in the towel and quit. Your soul can begin to wrestle with you when weariness sets in, screaming that the race is too hard, that it’s taking longer than you expected, or that it’s requiring more effort than you originally bargained for when you began.
What’s required of you is that you jump in the race and run with all your might — fixing your eyes on the goal Jesus has set before you. That’s why the verse says that we must run with patience the race that is “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 keimai, meaning to be set, appointed, or established. Compounded into one word — as used here in Hebrews 12:1 — prokeimenon, or “set before,” describes a race course that has been predetermined for you by someone else! That Someone else is Jesus, who has set, appointed, and established the precise course you need to run in order to get to where you’re going!
Just as my jogging buddy charted a course for me, Jesus has gone before us and has established a race for each one of us. We are not smart enough to figure out how to get to 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!
This verse in Hebrews 12 encouraged me recently, and I strongly felt I should write and encourage you that Jesus has already gone before you and is beckoning you to run your own race with all your might! It’s very possible that weariness will try to set in and that your mind will wrestle with you, telling you to quit. Your emotions may even tell you that finishing the race is just not worth it, because running the course is so much more than you bargained for when you began.
But quitting is not the answer. You can take courage knowing that Jesus didn’t give you a goal that you can’t reach! If you won’t quit, you will win — if you’ll keep your focus on your promised goal with your gaze riveted on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith (see Hebrews 12:2).
Today I encourage you to shove all negative emotions out of the way, decide that you are going to stay put in your race, and then make a run for it! Once you get moving, the Holy Spirit will give you supernatural momentum, and you’ll find yourself speeding down the track with your goal getting closer and closer to fulfillment with each stride you make!
Now let me ask you:
- What is the course 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 to someone else?
- Usually there are intermediate goals to reach on the way to your final goal. Thinking of goals you’ve already achieved may encourage you to keep going. So what are some of the intermediate goals you’ve reached along the way to completing your course?
- How do you encourage yourself when you get tired or when the devil tries to attack you mentally or emotionally? What are the ways you encourage and stir yourself up to stay in the race?
- Do you know someone who needs your encouragement right now so he will stay in his race? How could you encourage that person to stay put on the course Jesus has laid out before him?
Over the years, Denise and I have reached many God-given goals along the way in our spiritual race. And right now, one HUGE leg of the race that we are so close to completing is the first phase of reconstruction on the Moscow Good News Church building. The journey to establish a permanent church home for the congregation of MGNC has been a long one, but God has been faithful through every obstacle and challenge. Even in the face of apparent detours and setbacks, He continually strengthened us to endure our race with patience and to stay put (hupomeno) on our course so we could reach our mark. Very soon, we will have news for you detailing the grand opening of this marvelous facility. To God be the glory for the great things He has done — and for future goals He’ll help us reach as we keep our feet to the path He has laid out for us in the former USSR!
What about you? Do you have any long-held dreams still out in front of you just waiting to be obtained? I want to remind you that we are here for you! Denise and I and our prayer team take very seriously every prayer request you share with us. So please let us hear from you about the things that are on your heart. We would be honored to pray and stand in faith with you for the fulfillment of those dreams.
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner