“...let us run with patience the race that is set before us...” Hebrews 12:1c (KJV)
Although I think most of us at times seek to live in a vacuum when we look out on the world and see all of the things we do not want to affect our own lives or the lives of our children, that type of living is not “living in the world”, instead that is “living apart from the world”. Too often I see Christians use the excuse that they do not want to be affected by the world and so they create an optimal nook on the outskirts of this world to live apart from all that is wicked and deceitful so as not allow their faith and fellowship with the Lord to be encumbered by what seems to them is a nuance in dealing with the worldly things around them.
This morning I found various scriptures, relaying the same messages: You must live in the world. You must look beyond the world while your feet are still firmly planted in it. You must keep going in this world while living with your eyes on God and what He as promised. You must not get weary, run hard and strong with great endurance and faithful patience. All of these things encompass the meaning behind Hebrews 12:1.
The word run and the word patience (from the above verse of Hebrews 12:1)when expanded to their full meanings, are defined as follows:
run = fast paced movement
patience = to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset
So when we think in terms of our faith then, we can see that the author of Hebrews is telling us that God desires for us to approach each day in this world in quick and fast paced motions that do allow us to even take the time to accept, to tolerate, to be delayed, or to allow the affects of the things we suffer from to cause us to get angry or upset. How? Well, the truth is that these things we are experiencing are just light and momentary problems here on earth and there is a bigger and grander purpose out ahead of us that holds a greater promise and a tighter hold on those who bank all of their efforts in the race and what is to meet them at the finish line instead of the obstacles and detours the race takes them through.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
What it all boils down to is this: Where is your heart focused apart from where your feet are planted? Can you take your eyes off the road you are running on and just run while allowing the joy of the finish line to be all you need to keep your pace quickened and your feelings tempered? Living “in this world” is a requirement for running the good race. Whenever the choice is made to stop and hide away and be “apart from this world” is a choice to stop running and instead allow the obstacles or detours to control fears not faith and a constant pursuit of the Lord.
I thought the following verses of Psalm 102 were very fitting to add to this discussion.
“This will be written for the generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.
For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary;
From heaven the Lord viewed the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To release those appointed to death,
To declare the name of the Lord in Zion,
And His praise in Jerusalem,
When the peoples are gathered together,
And the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.” Psalm 102: 18-22
To have generations that will yet praise the Lord, that will groan as prisoners, who can be released when they have been appointed to death, and who would seek to serve God and declare Him to the nations requires a people who are willing to live “in this world” and not apart from it. These people are men, women, and children who are not deterred by what the world throws at them – they are willing do what is right in the sight of the Lord no matter what the cost. Why? Because they do not consider the light and momentary affliction of this world as an excuse to slow down and hide out.
As I wrap up today, I want to leave you with a quote that one of my devotionals contained that made me think even deeper about this subject of running with patience. As you think about the natural reaction of our human condition and the tendency to run and hide out when the going gets tough, it would be best to contrast those feelings with the truth of your calling and the race you have been called to run with patience in a manner that is worthy of your calling.
“Many of us us could tearlessly deal with our grief if only we were allowed to do so in private. Yet what is so difficult is that most of us are called to exercise our patience not in bed but in the open street, for all to see. WE are called upon to bury our sorrows not in restful inactivity but in active service – in our workplace, while shopping, and during social events – contributing to other people's joy. No other way of burying our sorrow is as difficult as this, for it is truly what is meant by running 'with patience'” George Matheson