Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
April 27, 2014
Finding strength to run life’s race
The Boston Marathon made the news last week. It was inspiring to see some runners who were injured in last year’s bombing competing this time. Millions of us were cheering proudly for them.
Life is more like a marathon than a hundred-yard dash. Each of us must find the strength to get up every day – for a lifetime – and keep running. Stamina is an absolute necessity. Without perseverance we will not make it to the finish line. The race is not easy for anyone.
There is a biblical passage that speaks poignantly of this race. The writer of the Book of Hebrews admonishes us: “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”
This admonition is found in the 12th chapter of Hebrews. What follows are some inspiring ideas that are helpful in our walk with the Lord. Read the first 12 verses of that chapter and then examine them with me:
1. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses! We are not alone. Faithful servants of the past are alive in the Church Triumphant. Spiritually they are with us. They are in our balcony, cheering us on. Their presence inspires us to continue the race. In the stillness we can hear them shouting, “Go on! You can do it! Don’t give up! Get up and go on!” This renews our hope and cheers us on.
2. We can run life’s race with perseverance! We can do it but we cannot do it alone. We need help. That is where Jesus comes in. He is available. His strengthening presence can make the difference. We will stumble and fall sometimes but by looking to Jesus we can stay the course. Trails and misfortune can be overcome. We have Christ to guide us!
The hymn writer Fannie Crosby did not quit the race because of her blindness. After years of letting Christ lead her, she could write of the Savior’s tender mercy and testify that he had “led her all the way.” If we will only “look to Jesus” we can experience the same guidance and sing Fannie’s song as our own:
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me-
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul a-thirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see.
I love that song, especially the thought that Jesus “cheers each winding path I tread.” He has! He does! He will!
3. Jesus endured the cross, shedding his own blood for our sins, and risen from the dead he has taken his seat at the right hand of the Father! Our suffering tempts us to doubt that God is in control of the world. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus did not die in vain; he endured the cross to fulfill the will of God. As Maltbie Babcock said, we must never forget that this is our Father’s world, and “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet”! Our hardships must not blind us to this reality.
4. Consider him so that you may not grow weary or lose heart! Indeed, consider Jesus! See him there, enduring the unbelievable pain of dying naked on a cross! In no way does our suffering compare to his. When we remember that, the size of our own problems diminishes and we do not lose heart in the heat of the race. Consider the price Jesus paid for you and you will not “grow weary in doing well.” You will simple give thanks – and walk on!
5. Humbly accept the trials of life because the Lord disciplines those whom he loves! Parents who do not discipline their children do not love their children. Authentic love includes discipline. Of course not every trial is sent from God. But some are. Because God loves us he “disciplines us for our good,” that our lives may produce the fruit of righteousness. God is holy. He expects his children to be holy. His discipline helps us to “share his holiness.” Holiness flows from submission and obedience. Holiness is not a “feeling” one gets from walking in a lovely sanctuary; it is Christ “made flesh” again in the way we live the common life.
6. Lift your drooping hands, strengthen your weak knees, and walk straight with your feet! In light of what Christ has done, we must stand on our feet! The sacrificial work of Jesus is enough to inspire us to lift our hand in praise to God. Our Savior’s love motivates us to become strong in our witness, bold in our service, and morally straight in everyday living. When we “stand up for Jesus” our lameness is miraculously healed by the grace of God.
7. Jesus goes before us as our pioneer leader. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. Faith in God makes sense because of Jesus. Jesus is our faith. Apart from him there is no Christian faith. He is the core of faith, the source of faith. He is our model of obedience to God. Jesus could endure the cross because he knew the Father’s joy awaited him. We also can endure trials for the joy awaiting us.
When his presence dwells within us we can run life’s race with perseverance that honors our Lord and brings us at last to spiritual maturity. The key is to keep looking to Jesus as our leader and guide. The faithful saints of the ages did that and we can too! Christ is our Leader. He is out in front of us, beckoning us to follow him. Whatever it takes, we must not falter! + + +