Text: Hebrews 12:1

One of the greatest memories in my life is the one I have of attending the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Watching track and field can be a little confusing, but I got better at paying attention to the events that were worth watching. One event that didn’t seem worth watching was a women’s qualifying heat for some really long run around the track. I don’t know how many times they had to run around it, but it was a lot. I watched them leave the blocks, but as they settled in to their run, my attention eventually went elsewhere—until I noticed all the women were done racing, except for one. I don’t know what country she was from, but I’m guessing it was a small place without much money to invest in athletes. There she was, not a chance in the world of qualifying to run in the medal event, but still running as if she was going for the gold. This would be her only time on the track. With her competitors off the track, she still had 2 laps to go. As she rounded the corner to make her final lap, everyone in the stands—and I mean everyone—got to their feet to cheer her on. It was so cool! All eyes were on her. Everyone cheering her to run. And run she did! She could feel the encouragement of the crowd.

It reminded me then and it reminds me now of 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.” I love that! I wonder if that Olympic athlete wanted to quit. I wonder if she questioned what she was doing among a group of such gifted runners.

My friend, Jesus has called you to run the race of ministry. He has uniquely gifted you to do just that. Hear His encouragement to keep going in the midst of fear, doubt, criticism and heartache. Hear His words of calling in the midst of feeling inadequate. Hear the people He has surrounded you with to encourage you in the journey.

Who has God surrounded you with as a source of encouragement to keep going? How can you be intentional about spending more time with them?

Lord, in the midst of my desire to throw in the towel, allow me to hear Your voice along with the voices of those you’ve given to me. Strengthen me, Lord, for the journey. Empower me by Your Holy Spirit to run the race You’ve marked out for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.