Twenty-Seventeen–a new year, a new start, a white parchment stretching out before us, blank to the horizon. What will God write on it? What will we write? We cannot know now, but we do know that God is good and has prepared a course for us that will move us upwards and onwards, no matter how it may appear.
Hebrews 12:1&2 has been a great help to me this year, assuring me that God has laid out a path for us and that Jesus is running with us. It gives us the perspective needed to realize what great roles He has offered us in the midst of distressful happenings.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,”
[Indications are that we are being watched by many: angels, demons and those who have gone on before us who lean over the balcony of heaven to cheer us on, as well as the people who see us every day. We are not hidden in a corner, but are in the stadium, running for God, and our performance matters.]
“let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”
[Realizing our role, we should eagerly look to jettison anything that prevents us from running well. This could range from too much phone/TV/movie/game time, to sin we are willfully engaging in. Like a runner shedding his street clothes, stripping down to just the essentials, so we should eagerly give up what hampers us in this race for life.]
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”
[It’s clear: God has set out a course for each of us; nothing is random, we cannot get lost as long as we stay on the path as it twists and turns, dips and climbs. The race will require perseverance, and endurance, but God gives those, too. Are we going to run or sit and feel sorry for ourselves when the climb is steep or the mud is deep?]
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
[Jesus is running with us! And as we run, we are to keep our eyes on him, not circumstances, other people or our feelings. When we encounter difficulties, we can know they are for the development of our faith as Jesus works to mature and perfect it.]
“For the joy set before him, he [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
[We need to have Jesus’ attitude. As he faced the cross, He looked beyond to being seated again with God. We, too, need to look to where we are going (eternity with God), to count as nothing the shame we and the world try to heap on us, and to rest in the Truth of the coming new Heaven and new Earth. Charles Spurgeon said, “Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help you to press on and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country; this world of woe is but the stepping stone to a world of bliss.”
So true! So let us run with perseverance and endurance the race He has set before us for 2017, keeping the big picture in mind, laying aside whatever hinders us, looking to Him, trusting Him, praising Him in all, following Him–and we will fulfill the purpose of our lives, honoring Him.