Warm Up: Hebrews 12: 1, 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.
Stretching: Read Hebrews 10: 19-25
Run: I was in the Army for eight years before I resigned my commission to start a full time ministry. I did a lot of running while I was in the Army. I ran alone, I ran with a running buddy, I ran in small groups, and I ran with large groups. One of my most unique running experiences was running in a formation of soldiers. We sang jody songs which were echo songs sung between a formation leader and a company of soldiers. Sometimes the formation was 250-300 people strong. It was quite a unique dynamic. The point was that the singing built a type of camaraderie or group unity that kept people from falling out of the formation. Sometimes, I had the opportunity to lead the jody calls from the side of the formation. The soldiers seemed to like the fact that the company commander could actually keep cadence. Those days are long gone, but I still sing my own jody calls when the running gets hard. I sing the songs I remember and I make up new ones as I go. I don’t sing them out loud, but I do the echoes as if a whole company of soldiers were running beside me. It helps keep my mind off the pain or other distractions. There’s an African Proverb that says, “If you want to run fast, go alone. If you want to run far, run with someone else.”
Our Warm Up for today talks about a great cloud of witnesses that is cheering us on from the heavenly sidelines. The angels and the saints of old watch with great interest to see the plan of God intersect with the schemes of men. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that this verse is a running metaphor. It is Paul’s call to the Hebrew Christians to persevere and stay true to the cause of Christ. The metaphor refers to a great amphitheatre, an arena for the runners and the tiers upon tiers of seats rising up like a cloud. In those seats set those who have gone on before us to include champions of the faith like Moses, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Rahab, and others. They are encouraging us to set aside the obstacles, much like runners in those days practically stripped themselves of all their clothes to run, so that nothing hinders us or causes us to stumble. Knowing that others are not only watching, but cheering me to hold on to the higher calling of another world, helps me run faster and farther.
Cool Down: “Lord, help me remember today that I am not alone. I thank you that there are some who have crossed the finish line ahead of me and they have shown me a better way to run this race. There are others who are running with me and they provide encouragement and help to run this race. Still others are yet to come along and they will be watching me for inspiration. Grant me the strength to endure and grace to finish the race you have called me to run. In Jesus’name, Amen.”