We are only a few short months into 2017, but I already feel like I’ve wasted much of it. I just feel as if I should be farther along in this race, but I’m not. And that bothers me.
It’s been nagging my mind pretty frequently and is a familiar topic in my prayer life. As I stood in church last Sunday, the same thoughts were there, and God dropped this verse in my heart:
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, 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. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)
I’ve probably read this verse a few hundred times in my life, but when I re-read it recently a few things stood out. First, getting tripped up is easy. I mean, I know that and you know that, but it’s right there in the Bible, too. I find that encouraging probably because I’m an imperfect person and I get tripped up pretty frequently. You’re not alone, friend.
This next realization may not be as easy to swallow though. Most of us can easily admit that we get tripped up, but it’s not as easy to take responsibility for those slip-ups. In those Bible verses, we are told WE are the ones who have to throw off the weights in our lives. It’s our job to do that! Our pastor can’t do it for us. Our best friend, as great as they are, can’t do it for us. We’ve got to do the work. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why we seemingly don’t get answers to certain prayers we’ve been praying. We’re asking God to do something He’s told us to do.
What’s holding you down?
So, what is a weight you can have in your life that’s slowing you down? Well, it can be just about anything — not just blatant sin. Sin is easier to identify by far, but weights vary by person. Maybe the weight is a lack of faith or a lack of trust that God is going to do what He said He would do. Maybe the weight is a distraction like TV or video games or Facebook. Or maybe that weight is a bearded lumberjack you can’t get off your mind. (Maybe this one is specific to me only.)
Like I said, weights can vary by person. An easy way to identify if something is a weight or not is to ask yourself this question: Does this thing get more of my attention than Jesus? As we read in Hebrews 12:2, our gaze is supposed to be ahead of us on Jesus, but if we have a weight, that weight will steal our attention.
If you’re still struggling to figure out if something is weighing you down, then simply pray and ask the Father to examine your heart like David did in Psalm 26:2. If we are humbly and honestly seeking God, He isn’t going to keep us hanging. He wants us to run this race untethered and with complete freedom. Even more than we want it for ourselves.
Get rid of the weight.
Once you’ve determined what the weight is in your life … CAST. IT. OFF. Do not let that thing slow you down any longer! Get as far away from it as possible. Don’t gingerly set it down and put it in a safe place for later, but put as much distance between you and that thing. Keep your eyes in front of you, never looking back at what you laid down, but run unhindered, looking toward your Savior. He is our prize and the reason we run this race after all.
The exciting thing is, as we cast off those weights, we will be propelled even further into the things of God. He’ll take you farther than you ever thought imaginable. Doing things you never thought you’d be doing. All because you decided to throw off the weight.
I know I’ve got to cast off some disappointment. Some things in my life don’t look like I thought they would, and those hopes or expectations are weighing me down. They’re slowing me down, and I’m not able to run as fast or as far. It’s going to take work on my part. When those thoughts come I’ll need to throw them off. And that may need to happen multiple times, but I’m determined to run this race with endurance.
What thing(s) do you need to cast off to run this race well? Are you willing to let them go?