The Olympics have reminded me of a very well-known verse in the Bible (Heb. 12:1) which goes:
“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.”
I always used to think this pictured a scene like in one of the great arenas with athletes running their races surrounded by a huge number of spectators watching their every move and cheering them on, How often have you thought of this during this last week. Such a picture can be very encouraging, particularly when, as we say, the going gets tough.
However, I have since learned that that is not the picture the writer had in mind. It is rather like the Sydney to Surf run where all the runners are surrounded by others participating in the same race. To be running with others can be equally encouraging, particularly when we begin to tire or even drop out. Our friends, running with us, will very likely say a few encouraging words which are all that is necessary to give us that extra strength and energy to keep going, and then wonderfully, we seem to get a second wind and can finish the race.
When we look at ourselves and compare ourselves with others, even our friends, we often are impressed by our differences. So many of us have different aims and objectives in life, and different ways of measuring happiness or achievement. Yet we are all wanting to find meaning and purpose in our lives; the thing is we find these in different pursuits. We all want to amount to something. We all want to be thought well of by our friends. We all want to be able to look back on our lives and feel we have achieved something worthwhile.
So perhaps we can stop and think that others too are on the same quest, or as the writer says, are running the same race. We can speak to them the same encouraging words we ourselves need to hear from time to time. And I am sure we can run much further, we can keep going longer, we can keep doing whatever we are doing with more determination when we see others involved in the same pursuits. Some say we are created to live in community. To be in solitary confinement for any length of time can absolutely destroy us, can send people mad.
So let us run the race set before us. Let us know others are racing with us, perhaps some even competing with us, but most simply running with us, hoping that together we can all amount so something, and let us encourage others, even as we seek encouragement for ourselves.
Rev. Alan Stuart Ex missionary to Korea, Retired Minister, UCA
(02) 8876 1870