"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. "Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV
Our friend Paula has a t-shirt with a picture of a two-toed sloth and the slogan, "Sloth Running Team, We'll Get There When We Get There." Unfortunately, not run this past year, the Boston Marathon is one of the best-known races in the world. In 2019, there were over 26,000 people, elite runners finish with a time under 3 hours, and the average time is around 4 hours, but often some of the most inspiring stories are from those who perceiver barely finishing. For many, it's not about the finish time, but the challenge and test of endurance and courage to complete it.
Sometimes in our spiritual marathon, we may feel we are barely running at all. We must slow to a walk to go up the hills, form blisters, experience uncomfortable chafing, and adverse weather conditions; excessive heat, driving wind, and pouring rain. As we run our long spiritual race, we will need to shed those clingy excess sins that slow us down.
The message today is not how fast you run the spiritual race. It doesn't matter if you are an elite runner or the humble sloth that moves at one mile an hour. What matters is that we stay the course, listening to the Holy Spirit's guidance and encouragement. In Jesus, we have the perfect running coach, trainer, and example of what it means to persevere, Keep running when you can and walk when you must but finish strong in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
God, we thank you for your Son Jesus. Through his endurance of the cross, he demonstrated your love for us. His sacrifice gives us a perfect example of how we are to persevere in our race. Our finish line is the promise of life eternal with you. We ask for your help and guidance today and in the days ahead. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.