So Great a Cloud
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. "
– Hebrews 12:1-2
Lay it aside.
It clings closely.
It weighs me down.
It slows me down.
Eyes set on my savior.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.
Faith is the conviction of things not seen.
Jesus had a deep, focused faith on the joy in front of him - on the other side of the cross. So he endured. He was running a race. It hurt. It was uncomfortable. But the prize would make it all worth while. He had an assurance of what he was hoping in. He had a strong conviction of something his human eyes could not see - and this propelled him on.
He had an even greater cloud of witnesses watching his race. Eternity past, present and future were all watching his every stride. All of our salvation hung in the balance. There was no other way to atone for our sin.
Jesus won the race. Jesus ensured our salvation. Now he calls us to run as well.
But we're weighed down. We're slow. We're distracted. We're forgetful. We can't hear the crowd cheering us on. The cloud of past runners, who have gone before us in this great relay race of eternity.
Sawed in two
Killed by sword
Their lives bearing witness to this life. Their sacrifice proving that it's not all in vain.
But we run backwards. We fall to the ground. After all, sin is more pleasurable in the moment than this endurance race. It's reward seems so close - and Christ seems so far off. Of course we'll get back up in a minute and press forward - we just need a much needed selfish reprieve. We don't see that it is hindering us in any significant way. We can't see how it is un-training our spiritual fitness. How it's making us fat, out of shape, confused, tired, unfocused, backsliding, and compromised.
Jesus, forgive me for my sinful intermissions. Forgive me for losing ground in this race. Forgive me for helping the other team with my betrayal. Make me a loyal teammate. May my assurance of faith be as sure as yours as you faced the cross.