I’ve been out running a huge amount during this time of quarantine. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying discovering new country roads, public footpaths, fields, forests and just enjoying this time of discovery of new areas.
I guess in a lot of ways we’re all a little bit like the runner out on the country road… We all have our own route to run, different ways of getting to where we’re going, but with the same goal of finishing the race that we’re running and finishing well.
Often when I’m out on a run I will have a look at my watch to find out how long Ive got left, how long is it till the suffering is over?
For any of you that have run the Sutton Fun Run, you’ll know that when you see people you know, they’ll encourage you, they’ll tell you “Come on! You can do it! Only one mile left, two miles left”. The focus is very much the end, but I think there is an important process that is going on whilst you’re running and I think that’s the same perseverance that we need as Christians today.
In Hebrews 10:32 and onwards the writer is giving the church at the time huge encouragement to keep going. The church at the time underwent serious persecution for being Christians, some of them beaten up for what they believed, some of them thrown in jail for being Christians.
I cannot comprehend what that sort of persecution would be like, but what I can do is take that and use that for my own suffering to encourage me during those difficult times, to keep the faith, hold strong and to remain focused on where my focus should be.
You see, accepting Jesus isn’t just a one time decision, I’ve done it, got the t-shirt, on we go… It’s very much a new beginning and what we’re doing when we accept Jesus and we say “Yes I want to follow you Lord, I want to trust you Lord” is we become like clay and we’re allowing God to mould us into being more like Jesus. Reading our bibles, joining together and praying together we allow the Holy Spirit to change us and whilst that process goes on, it changes our character and we start to develop characteristics; hope, compassion and perseverance – to keep on keeping on, despite the situations we are in, the difficulties we are going through.
I’m reminded of these difficulties when I’m out on the hill, now every hill is THE hill. I know its not the same as the difficulties that we go through but I think it acts as a useful illustration to help us to continue. It is tough – physically and mentally, I can’t see the top, nor the end but i’m reminded that, despite difficulty, physically this is where I become stronger for the next time around and in the same way the writer is very much saying to us there will be difficulties ahead, but through that we must hold on, retain the faith, and through that perseverance, God is developing our character.
Hebrews 10:32 says-
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.”
The writer jogs their memories. He reminds them of a time that they underwent suffering, they peservered, and they are where they are now because of that perseverance.
“You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”
Despite the hardships they were undergoing at the time, despite losing their personal wealth they remained focused on the real goal at hand.
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
We see that in the end being in Gods presence is very much the goal…. but at the same time remaining aware of the importance of the process that we are on whilst we go for that goal – that God is changing our character as we run.
I’ve never done a Marathon before…to be honest the thought scares me but I have spoken to people that have run marathons before and what they tell me is that its all worth it once they cross that line. All the endless amounts of runs, that they’ve been for, 20 mile runs, 25 mile runs out on an evening after work. The tough moments were all worth it once they cross the line.
There’s something incredible about persevering through the difficult times that we go through, keeping the faith, the focus on the end goal so that when we cross the line it will all have been worth it.