Hebrews 11 is considered by many as the “Faith Hall of Heroes” as it gives us the description of those saints who have gone before us in faith. But Hebrews 12:1 begins with the familiar “therefore”, which gives us the explanation of what the writer of Hebrews was explaining in chapter 11.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
In the 1990s, the movie “Forrest Gump” was released. This was the life story of a man named Forrest Gump. Forrest was a simple man with a low IQ. He also had a physical limitation with his back and legs in his childhood, where he needed to wear back and leg braces. But he never considered himself as anything but normal, and it was interesting to see that he excelled in every endeavor that he undertook throughout his life. Another aspect of his character was his dedicated devotion to his “momma”. He showed great respect and love for her and always wanted to please her and care for her. There were many quotes that came out of this devotion for his mother, such as, “Life is like a box of chocolates…”. One such quote from the movie came out of his focus on self-preservation – “Run Forrest, run!!” In the movie, running quickly became his focus in life as he dealt with many things. It was what he became known for in his early life. But as he ran throughout his life, he had no goal to attain with his constant running. This was evident at the point in his life where Forrest has run across the United States several times and then just stops running. He quits and goes home. There was no ultimate goal for him to attain, and he just quits and he never runs again in the movie. In essence, he was nothing more than a hamster on a wheel in a cage. He was not going anywhere.
When we perform our daily tasks, we are called to complete those tasks to the best of our ability. Someone who does not perform their task properly or performs inconsistently may well lose their position or job. But we do not improve our ability to perform tasks or improve our skills by simply standing and watching someone else do it. We do not just absorb the ability to perform well. It is not gained through the process of osmosis.
World-class athletes train very hard to be the absolute best in their sport. They never train to be second best. They constantly strive to improve their performance. In order for them to do well, they must eat the right foods, train properly and then practice their discipline. The old adage is true – How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, and more practice. You do not become an Olympic sprinter by throwing a baseball. A professional baseball player does not improve his baseball skills by working on stained glass. Doing well in your sport or task does not come easy, but it takes hard work and discipline. To be a successful athlete, you need to learn to develop a focus, to not be distracted by the things going on around you. To be a success in your daily life means that you have to develop a focus for your calling and block out distractions and maintain a goal – something you are striving to attain or gain.
Losing our focus and being distracted happens all too easily in our lives. The daily chores, routines, thoughts, and stresses of life take over. Each new step we take every day seems to become the most important one. At times, we are simply trying to make it through the day or even the next hour. Godly activities such as reading the Bible, praying, memorizing Scripture, and exercising hospitality can lose focus. We have become distracted, and our vision is lost – our goal has disappeared.
What is the goal each Christian must keep before them? Only one thought must rise above all others. The psalmist says (Ps. 27:4), “One thing have I asked of the Lord that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” What must be our vision and our focus? It must be the beauty of the Lord and that we will reside with Him in His temple.
We can all agree this is true, but our daily reality proves more difficult. This task, this goal, is a daily discipline for the Christian. We want to know, serve, love, and obey Jesus because we desire to see Him above all else. It requires discipline and holy pursuit. We must engage our minds. We must engage our lives. Anything that blocks and distracts us from the goal of Christ must be thrown away and discarded. Anything that increases the goal must be embraced.
I would like to close with 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified.”
Christ is our goal in this life and the life to come. As we go about our daily work, do so with Christ in view. As we seek to parent our children and love our spouse, do so with Christ in view. As we read our Bible and pray, do so with Christ in view. Plead with Him every morning to give us a greater vision of His beauty and glory each day. Let us thank Him every night for the providence and His glory that we enjoyed that day. And, as we pursue the goal of Christ by faith, He has promised us a vision of Himself by sight in the world to come. Let this be our motivation until the end of days. Let this be our goal to strive for. Let us work diligently to steal every small view of Him in the present time. Let us look to the future when we shall know him in full sight even as we are fully known by Him. Let Jesus Christ be our only focus and goal each day as we come to Him by faith.