Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.– Hebrews 12:1
Imagine with me: A man is running a hard race. He is in the lead by a hundred feet. He is just a hundred feet from the finish line. He has been running for miles. He sees a friend cheering him on. Suddenly, he stops. He walks to the line of spectators and just sits down in front of them. He gives no explanation except, “I’m done.” He doesn’t finish the race that he started. He doesn’t win. He just quits early.
That is not what God has in mind when He says ‘run with endurance,’ is it? He has in mind a people who finish what they start. They have endurance to the end. They keep fighting the everyday things that could discourage them. They keep fighting sin. What is different between our race and the hypothetical race I described above? The runner above could see the finish line. It is rare for us to see the finish line. Isn’t that the reason that we are tempted to quit? We don’t see the line. We don’t have any way to tell how far we have come or how far we have to go. So, instead of enduring to the end, we are tempted to quit when we feel like it. We quit early.
I am deeply concerned about how often I see Christians quit early in their races. I see it between people when forgiveness is no longer offered. I see it in churches when a church stops reaching out to its community. I see it in families when loving commitment doesn’t last through the present struggle.
What do we miss out on when we quit early? We miss out on the miracle that God produces through endurance! We miss out on seeing God’s truth bear its fruit. We miss out on knowing that God can work even in the most difficult situation. We never see God restore to us what the locusts have eaten. We miss out on being that witness that leads a stubborn sinner to the feet of Jesus.
Let me encourage you today. Don’t quit early. Reset your understanding of the length of this race. The race is not over until God calls you home. It’s not over when there are bad seasons. It’s not over when we make mistakes. It’s not over when tragedy strikes. There will be both hills and valleys in your race. Don’t give up because you are in a dark valley. Use the glorious views from the hills to spur you on. If you have a race that is mostly valleys, let the finish line of God’s glory spur you on. God has promised that we will see results if we endure to the end. So, endure. Don’t quit. See God’s hand in your life!
Something to think about,
I don’t usually do this, but consider the following scriptures to encourage you…
James 1:2-4 2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Hebrews 12:7-11 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Joel 2:25-27 25 “Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, my great army which I sent among you. 26 “You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame. 27 “Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other; a
nd My people will never be put to shame.