“C’mon, you can do it! We’re almost there.” “Keep going! Look ahead, you can see the finish line.” These are just a couple of the comments that I heard at the Chicago Marathon. I was standing just past the sign for mile 26 where the runners turn the last corner and enter the final stretch. You could see the exhaustion, not just on their face, but in their demeanor. I watched as one guy came limping around the corner, his legs cramping. The paramedics came over but he waved them away. I’m sure he could see the finish line and couldn’t bear the thought of quitting right then but he could barely walk. Just then, two runners stopped and came over to him, put their arms around him and helped him to the finish line.
Earlier that morning, I stood by mile marker 12, looking for a friend who was running the race. As I searched for her, I couldn’t help but notice the fatigue that was already setting in for many of the runners. Some of them ran with shoulders slumped and face drooped. But when they heard their name being screamed from the sidelines and looked over to the smiling, cheering faces of family and friends – oh what a difference it made! Their entire countenance lifted, shoulders went back and often a smile would appear on their tired face. What a beautiful picture of Hebrews 12:1-2a!
“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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”
Followers of Jesus are also in a race. We set our eyes, not on our fans, but on Jesus who is the greatest Fan we could ever ask for. He loves us dearly and wants us to finish strong. And we need to encourage each other. We are in this race together and need each other. In the ministry I’m involved with, we are learning to work together, to encourage each other, to pray for each other. It’s a journey that we’ve just begun and still have much to learn. But it’s exciting to see how God is working in us, creating a bond that only comes through Jesus.