Thoughts of a radical pastor: We continue running the race that is set before us

KEN ANSELL

Until a few years ago, I played tennis, two or three nights a week.  I miss my old tennis partner.  Good, committed tennis partners are hard to find, and good friends even harder (love you, Rey). Sadly I don’t play much tennis anymore, so I run. If anybody tells you they enjoy running, they are lying. Running is not fun. When I started running three years ago, I ran between 3 and 5 miles a day. I had to stop for a short time because of some health concerns, but when I picked back up I got stuck at three miles. Everyday three miles and I was done. Do you know why? Three miles is easy, it’s comfortable, it doesn’t take much effort - it takes less than 30 minutes, or 9 Toby Mac songs, whichever comes first.

Ken Ansell

I’m challenging myself again, running further and running faster. I’m tired of being lazy and being stuck. Switchfoot has taken the place of Toby Mac or the latest Christian podcast (change is good - are you listening church?), and on Day 5 of this new me, I had some breakthrough and no longer do I think I’m going to die, and I’m ready to run like Forrest Gump clear across Greenbow County (for no particular reason).  Listen, can we talk?

Our faith in Christ is a race. This is what Hebrews 12:1 says anyway:  “… 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, …”

Just like in real life we get stuck spiritually. It’s easy to go through the motions of our Christianity. Some of us can go to church, read our Bible, pray and even teach Sunday School without breaking a sweat. That’s not the race Jesus has marked out for us (that’s cultural or maybe even nominal Christianity). The race God has for us is hard (Matthew 7:14, John 16:33), it includes great trouble and it takes everything we’ve got. Laying aside every weight, every sin, taking anything that slows us down out to the burn pile is a holy must and a constant. It’s like we are always cleaning out the closet, throwing things away that keep us from running further and faster - does that make sense?

This group of people, the writer of Hebrews mentions this “great cloud of witnesses” is found in Hebrews 11 - what we call the “faith chapter.” These people have already run their race, and therefore they encourage us by the fact that they did it by keeping their eyes on our ultimate faith champion Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).  

I told you all of that to tell you this: Don’t poop out. You can do it! God is for you, and so am I! Keep running, and when you can’t run anymore, run some more (when you start to get tired refuel - eat a banana, drink some chocolate milk or a bottle of Hint water but keep running)! Just don’t stop! He told me to tell you that.