January 4, 2019
"And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus ..." Hebrews 12:1b-2a (NLT)
Yes! The word slipped out of my mouth before I had time to think through the commitment all the way.
As one year ended and dreams of what could be in the new year dangled in my thoughts, my sister called me with an idea. Let's run a half-marathon, she suggested. She sounded optimistic and excited, so with hardly any consideration at all, I offered to accompany her on this daunting journey.
I'd never run a half-marathon, but I had run some shorter races in the past. Sure, those races were three miles instead of 13, but I had finished every one of them. And though it had been nearly a decade since the last time I ran a race, this seemed like just the thing to get me going again.
Oh, and did I mention I had just birthed my sixth child about three months before I said yes to this?
This story has all the makings of an underdog-turned-champion ending, but unfortunately that's not how it ended for me. After only a few weeks of training, I quit. It turns out you have to do a lot of running to train for a half-marathon. And it also turns out I don't like running that much.
But even though I never ran the race, I did learn something in those few weeks of training.
During the first days of my training, I set out with one thing in mind: Finish the number of miles I'm required to run today. In order to do that, I set my pace slow. Some might say very slow. Okay, a fast walker probably could have passed me. But I knew my limits, and I knew in order to finish the number of miles on the training plan for that day, I had to take it slow.
But after a few days, my confidence grew, and I decided it was time to pick up the pace. I even timed myself. That's what serious runners do, right?
For several days I tried this approach and every day the same thing happened. A few miles into each run, I would wear out and couldn't force myself to keep going. The faster pace demanded energy and strength I didn't have, and it kept me from completing what I set out to accomplish. I couldn't finish.
In today's key verse we read about a race set before us by God. We're encouraged to run that race with endurance, but we're also told how that is possible: "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2a).
The Greek word translated "keeping" is aphorao and means to turn your eyes away from other things and fix them on something. Our key verse gives us the place to fix our eyes: Jesus.
The first step to keeping our eyes on Jesus is to identify the things we need to turn our eyes away from.
As a new year dawns, it can be easy to become fixed on new hopes and expectations. Maybe this is the year we'll become more organized or the year we will finally run that half-marathon. But ultimately, all of those things can become distractions if they draw our attention away from our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Whatever goal we set our sights on achieving, without Jesus as our focal point, we risk running in the wrong direction or at the wrong speed.
So, as we stand at the starting line of this new year, let's remember this: When we set our pace correctly, we can go a lot farther than we think. But when we set our pace too fast, we wear out and can't finish the race. With Jesus as our focal point, we can be sure He will set our pace correctly.
Jesus' pace may not always agree with ours. He may slow us when we want to speed up. He may move us when we'd rather stay put. But Jesus will always perfect our faith and lead us to the finish line. (Hebrews 12:2b)
Dear Jesus, I want to run the race marked out for me in 2019 with my eyes fixed on You. Set my pace that it may complement, not compete with, Your purposes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 4:25, "Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you." (ESV)
Cheers to 2019! To celebrate, we've released our exclusive New Year's collection, available in the Proverbs 31 store. You'll find everything you need to get 2019 started off right, including journals, apparel, devotionals, calendars and more! [Click HEREto shop the 2019 Collection!]
Fear of the future can pull our eyes away from Jesus. Stop by Katy McCown's blog today for a free download of "15 Promises to Fight Fear and Anxiety."
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What pushes you to set your pace too fast? Is it the desire to get ahead or the fear of letting others down?
Bring your list of desires and demands to God today, and ask Him to show you what is on His list for you this year. Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2019 by Katy McCown. All rights reserved.