“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 pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
I have recently started trying to hone the practice of praying specific scriptures over my life and the lives of others. This morning I dug out my trusty scripture box and pored over the countless verses that God has drawn my attention to over the years. I flipped through each one and selected nine that are just perfect for this season in my life. I also found scriptures for Gilbert, for William, for friends and extended family. Some overlap and I pray the same verse over multiple people, while others are specific to individuals in their present circumstances.
I stumbled upon Hebrews 12:1-3 and set that card aside for me. I have read those verses, spoken them, and reflected on them throughout my life, but they called to me with new significance this morning. The message of running a race with perseverance perfectly fits this season of motherhood and I seized upon them. As a new mama, I am in a marathon, not a 5k, and need God’s continual provision to remain faithful in living as the wife and mother He has called me to be.
When I prayed these verses out loud this morning, I imagined myself running in an actual race and vividly pictured the scene. Hair in a pony tail, sweat running from my brow, I could see myself jogging along, the sound of footsteps and shallow breaths filling my ears. When I got to the portion about “fixing our eyes on Jesus” I paused to consider what that would look like in my scene. Am I looking ahead of me? Looking at Him running beside me? Running with my eyes up to the heavens?
The more I thought about it, the more I pictured all of the other things that would be vying for my attention as I ran along. Different portions of the race would yield different temptations to take my eyes off of Him and focus elsewhere. Knowing myself, there would be times that the temptation to check out the crowds to my left and right would steal my attention. Are the people around me cheering or are they snickering about how slowly I am running? In other moments, I know I would be tempted to look down the road—how much longer do I have to go? Are there hills up ahead? In still other times, I would be tempted to look behind me, indulging in pride about how far I had run. Look at me!! These are common temptations I face every day in the race I am running—I’m not even going into the distractions that come when obstacles arise, when weariness sets in, or when the weather changes.
There are so many other places to set my sights that I have to be intentional every day to focus my eyes on Him. For me, this means taking a cue from Psalm 5:3 and going to God in the morning, before the day is in full swing. I complete Bible study homework, read scripture, and spend time just talking to God. There is a noticeable difference in the days that I do this—I am more centered, I have greater peace, and my perspective on life is tremendously impacted. Without this focus, I frequently veer off course and barely limp along.
This is a race and running well requires dedication. While I am not competing against anyone else, I am called to take every day that God blesses me with and run it faithfully. This will not happen by accident, I must be intentional.
In the end, I decided that fixing my eyes on Jesus, means that I am running while looking directly in front of me. That’s where I imagine Him to be—a few steps ahead so that He can guide me along the path, while in the perfect position to encourage my every step. What a mighty God we serve. Oh that I would be so faithful to train my eyes on Him alone.