“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1
The word here in Hebrews can be translated as patience or as endurance. Both mean roughly the same for the context of the verse. It is a strange thing for us. We consider races or running as being something done fast. The fastest person to the finish line or the first to reach some goal. Even in endurance races, it is about going a certain distance, and whoever is the fastest wins.
As a Christian, what does running this race called life with patience?
We don’t know for sure if the writer in Hebrews was thinking of a specific example or race, but they were possibly referring to a race that was an event in the ancient Greek Games. The Greek games were the predecessor to what we know as the Olympics. It was a showing of physical ability by athletes. One of the events was called the Lampadedromia or Lamp Run.
What is this event? The runners would run with a lit torch, and the winner of the race was the first runner to finish. The unique element of this race is that the torch still had to be lit at the finish line! When I first heard of this event or race, it was considered the origin of the ceremonial torch relay before the Olympics. However, this event gives a great example of running with patience.
Let me explain, with this torch, if you ran too fast, it would blow out. Consider if you have a candle lighter and move it too quickly; it goes out. On the other extreme, if you run too slow, you will eventually run out of fuel and burn out.
Think about it in this way. Have you ever met a Christian who maybe just got saved? They were excited and ran 110% speed every single day for Christ? Yet, nobody helped them understand the daily living, maintaining their faith, and how to endure difficulties. They were hyped up on the excitement, but it wavered, and they burned out because they didn’t have the endurance built up. On the other side, maybe it’s a Christian who has become stagnant. They have the endurance and the daily habits, but there is no excitement or urgency in anything they do for Christ.
Are you starting to see how this compares to the torch run?
There is an urgency that is needed since you are running a race. However, there is also the patience to endure and ensure you don’t burn out quickly. It’s a balance! We need to have an urgency to tell others about Christ and to be a witness for Him! However, we can’t neglect our daily Christian race—the Bible reading, devotions, prayer, and daily serving God.
We have to be careful not to burn out but not to become so casual we lose all urgency.
So how is your race going? Do you need to pick up the pace? Or do you need to work on building up your endurance? It is a process that takes time to find the balance.