By Judi Jackson
Sept. 2, 2014
Anybody else tell yourself that you’re going to do something and then not follow through? It’s not that it wasn’t important or valuable, it just wasn’t urgent. Ugh! This happens in my life all the time … prioritizing the urgent over the important.
Early in the summer, I started a blog series on Hebrews 12:1-3 called “Lessons I’ve Learned from Running.” My first point was taken from the first phrase of the first verse: identify your supporters.
Preparing for the Saints’ Back-to-Football 5K this Saturday has me processing my running again so it’s time to jump into the next point:
TWO: Identify what’s holding you back.
We’re already into Week 3 of the semester and, I don’t know about you, but I’m behind. Actually it’s more like I’m getting a late start. I wasn’t ready for school to kick off two weeks ago so I feel like I’m still walking toward the ‘start line.’ This will make sense if you’ve ever been in a large race like the Crescent City Classic or the Peachtree Road Race where the really fast people get to start right at the line but the rest of us thousands are amassed in timed bunches (or corrals) for blocks and blocks behind. It’s not usual for the frontrunner to have already completed their first mile or two before I even run under the starting banner.
In Hebrews 12:1, the writer tells us that we need to “throw off everything that hinders” (NIV) or “lay aside every weight” (NASB). Basically, this implies that we need to consider anything that hinders or impedes the runner’s progress. First century runners would enter a stadium in long flowing robes but, just before the race, they would lay them aside – throw them off – and run naked.
Spiritual implications, anyone? No, I’m not suggesting we start running naked; this would not be a pretty sight! However, I do know that I’ve already begun thinking about what I will wear or carry with me at this Saturday’s race so that I can have the most freedom to run my best.
And what does this look like as we seek to run the race God has marked out for us? Each believer needs to ask, “What is hindering me from being and giving my best to God?” No, we can’t lay aside or throw off our children, churches, or spouses, but we can consider the things we have cluttered our lives and schedules with. What needs to go? What needs to stay?
Sometimes I say, “My YESes have collided.” I try to manage my schedule carefully but there are times that my YES to teaching a weekly Sunday morning Bible Study collides with my YES to be available to visit and support my young adult children who live in different cities. My YES to prepare for and teach seminary classes may distract from my YES to going to bed early enough to get the amount of rest I need. I could go on and on but the point is for all of us to consider what is most important to fulfilling God’s call on our lives and to do this! I’m not saying giving up your downtime and recreation … goodness, I’m all about cheering on the Saints and shopping a good sale … but, in the big picture, if these seemingly harmless activities are hindering me, then I need to re-evaluate their place in my life.
And before we give all the blame or attention to our busy schedules, don’t forget that our attitudes can be a hindrance to our running as well. Author Tommy Yessick once said about running that the hardest part was tying one’s shoes and the best part was the shower afterwards. We’ve got to get our attitudes in line with our desires … it’s not enough to want to be a runner; to be a runner, you have to get out there and run!
Do you have some ‘bad’ attitudes you need to lay aside or throw off? In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul gave us quite a checklist for where our thought life should focus. If we’re letting our minds go anywhere but to what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, then we’re off course and need an attitude check.
So, have you identified anything that’s holding you back in your life race? I pray that this week you open your heart – and schedule and attitude – to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to help you lay aside and throw off anything that’s hindering you. Why? Because it’s only Week 3 and we’ve got a long way to go!