"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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
This was last Friday's Scripture for Good Morning Girls' Advent Study. As I was "S.O.A.P.ing" it (writing out scripture, observations, and applications, then praying), I found myself writing a lot more than I usually do. It stirred up a lot of thought and emotion, so feeling limited by the space on my sheet of paper, I hopped on the computer to write more here.
First of all, last week's theme for the Advent Study was joy. Looking at Hebrews 12, we see the word "joy" in verse 2. But we'll get there later.
Let's talk about sin. We all do it. Sometimes we don't mean to, sometimes we don't even know we've sinned, and sometimes we choose to sin, even when we know better. No matter how or why we sin, we can be sure there'll be consequences. (Understatement of the year!) Sin opens up a great big can of worms in our lives. It leads to more sin. It traps us. It entangles us, as we see in Hebrews 12:1.
Haven't we all been there before? One sin leads to another, then another, and another...before we know it, we're entangled in sins and can't figure out how we got there. Sometimes it only takes one sin to entangle us, and we can't move anymore. We become immobile.
Now look at the next part of the passage: "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." How are we supposed to run a race when we're immobile? And it's not just any race. It's THE race. It's God's will for us. He has it all marked out for us, and all we have to do is run. Hard. With perseverance. God knows it's not always going to be easy, but He tells us how to do it: don't let ourselves become entangled in sin, and keep our eyes on Jesus.
Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of faith," showed us how to keep our eye on the prize. He had great faith and you guessed it, JOY. Joy in the promise of eternal life with God in heaven, and joy in saving us sinners so that we might recieve the same promise. "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down and the right hand of the throne of God." Joy was his prize, and Jesus, who brings us true joy, is ours. And that joy let him not just persevere, but even scorn the obstacles in his path. What great obstacles they were! And he scorned them. He was able to ignore them because he knew better. And so do we.
We know that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle. And we know that true joy only comes from accepting Jesus. And if we choose to follow, our race is already marked out for us. We just have to run. Hard. For joy. And don't look back!