“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…”
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
The Christian pilgrimage is likened to a battle (1 Timothy 6:12), to walking (2 John 1:4), and a race (Hebrews 12:1) among other analogies. Hebrews 11 is often called the faith chapter of the Bible and it lists men and women of faith from creation on through the Old Testament times. They testified to the worth of trusting the Lord and how sacrifices made here produce rewards in the future. They longed for a better country—the Celestial City as John Bunyan called heaven in his great book “Pilgrim’s Progress”.
As the writer to the Hebrew Christians urges believers to patiently “run…the race”, he refers them to the giants of the faith (see Hebrews 11). They were people who were the “great cloud of witnesses” testifying to the worth of suffering for the sake of the heavenly reward. We are “surrounded” by these people, and they cheer us on as it were.
We also have many such witnesses in the last two thousand years who have willingly laid down their lives for the faith. Foxes Book of Martyrs relates the stories of many children of God who paid with their lives because they identified with the Christian message.
Whatever obstacles we face as Christians, we have not had the experience of the martyrs. We read in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
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.”
Today renew your determination to run the race “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)
He is our inspiration and our goal. Consider praying the following hymn as you face today and may you find the joy of the Lord your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
O Master, let me walk with thee
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me thy secret, help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.
Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.
Teach me thy patience; still with thee
In closer, dearer company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong.
In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broad’ning way,
In peace that only thou canst give,
With thee, O Master, let me live.
– W. Gladden