About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Focused On The Finish Line


Even with my legally blind eyes, while in high school I was the fastest 100 yard dash runner in my grade.  I don't recall ever losing a race.  When I was running, winning was the only thing on my mind.  I was focused on the finish line, as Hebrews 12:1 and 2 admonishes.  "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.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus ..." 


The witnesses in this passage are in reference to the Old Testament people in chapter 11 who trusted God despite the fact that they never received what they trusted Him for.  They persevered in faith until the day they died.    


This passage tells us to throw off both sin and things that hinder our race of faith.  In Greek, the verb "throw off" is an aorist verb.  This suggests that we must "once and for all time" throw off anything that distracts us from fulfilling God's will in our lives that is portrayed here as a race.      


Unlike a 100 yard dash, God's will for our lives is a marathon.  When I ran 100 yards I ran as fast as I could.  When I ran a long distance race, I paced myself.  That I did in 1981 when I ran a 2 and a half mile race as a new-comer to a Fairfax, Virginia, church's yearly summer games.  No one had ever beaten my friend Keith in that race.  I was determined that I would.  I kept pace with him until the last quarter mile, when, despite my weariness, thirst, and weakened legs, I took off as fast as I could.  I not only wanted to win the gold medal of the game's premiere event, I wanted to beat Keith, and I did.  I became an instant hero.  Someone, namely me, finally beat Keith.  I felt so proud of myself.   


Hebrews 12:1 tells us to throw off anything that hinders us from successfully crossing the finish line of faith.  Anything includes good things.  Too much of a good thing isn't good.  Food is good, but too much food isn't good.  If a good thing consumes our lives to the neglect of God's will, it isn't good.    


We are bombarded with countless distractions, along with material, social, and even religious clutter that hinders us from running our race of faith.  For example, many of us can't even spend a few moments with Jesus in prayer without our cluttered minds wandering in all directions.        


The Apostle Paul was one focused man.  Nothing, not imprisonment, shipwrecks, persecution, hunger, stonings, or even execution, distracted him from his mission.  His goal was to cross the finish line and say, "I have fought the good fight, I have run the race" (2 Timothy 4:7).  Words like "fight" and "race" suggest an enduring perseverance that is fundamental to any marathon. 


I understand that few of us are called to run Paul's kind of race of faith.  We are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, employers, employees, or whatever.  We have different races to run, but still, we should aspire to run with a single-mindedness, a focused intentionality that drives us to the finish line.     


I'm now 65 years old.  The finish line for me is getting close.  If I'm like my parents, I'll cross the finish line in just 10 to 12 years.  I have no doubt that I will cross.  I just don't want to limp across.  I want to finish strong.  So, I will fix, or focus, my eyes on Jesus.  He is my prize that awaits me at the finish line.


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