This past week, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of leaders who are going into ministry. The passage the Lord laid on my heart was Hebrews 12:1-2, “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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and the perfector of our faith.”
Now more than ever, I think we need the reminder to run with perseverance. As I look around me, I see God doing a massive cleansing job in the church. He has allowed us to be shifted. Many who once claimed to follow Jesus are now (because they’ve been disillusioned and disappointed in the church) “de-constructing their faith.” It’s possible that you know those who once claimed to be followers of Jesus who now say they’ve left the faith because it no longer “works for them.” Friend, the writer of Hebrews calls and challenges us to run the race that has been marked out for us with resiliency!
To be resilient basically means the ability to bounce back and re-group from difficult circumstances. We need resilient followers of Jesus because, the truth is, Jesus Himself said, “In this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33). In other words, in this world, people will disappoint you. People in churches will hurt you. You will experience some suffering and sorrow. You’re going to have some trouble. Then Jesus goes on to say, “Take heart. I have overcome the world.”
The question then is how do we run the particular race God has laid out for us with perseverance and resilience?
Running with Resiliency
Lay aside distractions. There are distractions all around us. News reports, social media, work pressures, cell phones, email, and texting. We can feel distracted by our own feelings of inadequacy, our own anxieties and fears. None of these distractions are wrong necessarily, it just depends on how much we focus on them. There will always be distractions. When we realize we’re too focused on the distractions, that’s the exact moment to shift our focus to Christ.
Be ruthless with sin. Let’s face it. We are all our best defenders. We entertain a myriad of excuses: “I was just tired! I just was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t feel like my needs were getting met. I didn’t really lie, I merely stretched the truth.” Friend, when sin creeps in – and it will – be honest. Bring it before the Lord. Confess. Apologize where you need to. Make amends and move on. There is always grace. The problem comes when we hide our sin and run from grace.
Keep your pace sustainable. What do I mean? The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. God has ordained certain rhythms to help us run with perseverance. Don’t ignore those. Keep the Sabbath. Rest. Embrace your limits. Stay in tune with God. Practice silence and learn to be still. You can’t go 24/7 and not crash. It’s simply not possible!
Stay hydrated with the Living Water. You can’t stay in the race without continually being hydrated with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Put into place daily practices of reading and meditating on the Word, praising and worshipping Jesus, and silence with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and sustain you in the race.
Fix your focus on Jesus. Finally, don’t put people on a pedestal. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Understand that others will disappoint you and hurt you. Your gaze needs to be completely focused on Jesus and His plan for your life. When you lock gazes with Jesus, He invites you into a journey of adventure. Is it long and hard at times? Yes. But when you get on board with what He’s doing, there’s joy and peace in the journey.
Friend, the Christian walk is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Give some thought to Hebrews 12:1-2 and what might need to change in your life in order for you to run with resiliency.