This is the text of my Going Deeper Daily Devotions for today:
Todays reading is Hebrews 12:1-24, but I am only going to read the first few verses, I will leave you to read the rest yourself.
As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne.
When I was learning to drive, the one best pearls of wisdom that the wonderful Llewelyn imparted to me is “look at where you want to go”. Keep your eyes focussed on the road ahead at where you are journeying to.
Don’t look at the front of the bonnet, you are not prepared for what is ahead, and especially don’t start admiring the scenery to the left or right – or that is where you will end up heading.
It turns out, that is not only useful advice for driving, but also for faith. I would dare to suggest it is also good advice for a pandemic.
We are running a race, Hebrews tells us. I sincerely hope it is not a physical running race, or I don’t stand a chance! If I can expand the metaphor further, it is not a sprint, but a marathon. It is not about a short sharp burst of energy, but about the long game. The race that lies before us is probably long and winding, with unexpected twists and turn – more like a steeplechase with various different obstacles! – but no so systematically placed. We will all run it in our own way, with our own style. But the writer of Hebrews tells us to run, always keeping our eyes on Jesus. He is where we are going, he is the reason for the journey, it is on him we depend. Take our eyes off him and we will become distracted, drop focus, lose momentum in our step, become confused about where we were going, what the goal actually was, or just head off in the wrong direction all together.
With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will not be distracted by the things on the periphery – those things that scare us, confuse us, take out focus, our interest, or just take us from the road and land us in a ditch.
Jesus should be our focus, the way, the guide. With our eyes on Jesus, we are not avoiding the here and now, not just looking to the future, but thinking like Jesus each step of the way.
It seems very trite to ask,
‘what would Jesus do?’
but actually it can be a great question. We will only reach the end if each step works. As we plough on with our natural reactions, it can be a great question to pull us up in any situation – never mind what I feel, what my knee jerk reaction might be, what would Jesus be doing in this situation? How is my vision of him going to effect what I do here, now?
When I finish this race, will I be able to look Jesus in the eye?
The passage finishes with these words:
22 Instead, you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, with its thousands of angels. 23 You have come to the joyful gathering of God’s first-born, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, who is the judge of all people, and to the spirits of good people made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, who arranged the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that promises much better things than does the blood of Abel.
That is race’s end – The city of the living God. To the joyful gathering of God’s people. To Jesus.
Each day, may that be our focus.
you call us to run this race of life.
We want to run it always with you,
always with our eyes fixed on you
and not distracted
by things that do not matter.
And so each day
may we look to you
in the way that you would.
May God bless us this day in our journey
and every day.
May we know his presence.