1 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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:1-3 NIV.
Ascend recently hosted over 100 runners at our annual Dare to Ascend Trail Run. God blessed us with an amazing day and some amazing people, both our incredible volunteers and runners. I was impressed by the dedication and patience of runners as they came across the finish line, many with equal measures of pain and joy on their faces. From my perspective, it was inspiring to watch them leave early in the morning fresh and full of energy, and return to the same spot hours later, caked with dirt, blood and sweat. Each runner had experienced a journey filled with trial and victory; I could see the story on their faces but only the runner and God really knew the full tale with all its ups and downs.
Anyone who has ever run a marathon or half-marathon knows what a physical and mental challenge it is. When you slam into “the wall,” all your body wants to do is quit, and you must dig deep inside to find motivation to carry on one step at a time. The Christian life is much like this. Sometimes the going is easy and you’re flying along with nary a care in the world, and suddenly you hit a wall. That wall comes in many forms; it can be temptation or sin, physical illness, depression, difficult circumstances, etc. It’s never certain in what form the trial will come, but you can be sure that it will, and when it does it can be so easy to grow weary and lose heart. That’s when you must dig deep inside and find the motivation to carry on.
One thing I love about the wilderness experience is that it teaches us this lesson of perseverance. Often when we are leading adventure experiences, participants will get pushed to the very breaking point. They must struggle with the urge to give up and find a reason to press on.
From this experience we can learn the discipline of submission, of casting off everything that hinders, fixing our eyes on Christ, and following Him in spite of the pain and difficulty. When we stare deep into the eyes of our Savior, we see the One who carried our burdens to the Cross and didn’t shrink back from the agony and injustice of such a cruel death. When we fix our eyes on Him and rejoice that we are His, we can find the strength to carry on.