“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, KJV)
Imagine a coliseum filled with people charged with enthusiastic energy. Countries from all over the world are representing these track and field events. The runners are taking their places.
“On your mark. Set. Go!” The runners are off. The thunderous cheering of the crowd is nearly deafening. The runners make their first round, then, oh no! One of the runners stumbles and falls. Some in the stands gasp. Others begin shouting, “Get up! Get up!” Some of the teammates of opposing runners silently applaud the fall. What is the fallen runner to do? Should he just give up and walk off the track? Or, for the love of his country, get back up and finish the race, regardless of what he places?
The New Testament compares the Christian faith and life as a race—a difficult and strenuous race. There are times the follower of Christ gets tired. Some runners, because of besetting sins, stumble and fall. Perhaps you are one of these runners. Humiliated, feeling frustrated and defeated, what are you to do? You can choose to give up and simply walk off the track. This is quite easily done, albeit disgraceful. Or, for love of your King and country (His kingdom), you can choose to get up and continue running. For you see, the goal is not to come in first, second, or third place, because the race has already been won. Victory is already yours, in Christ. Sure, some will gasp at your fall(s), others will mock and applaud. Nevertheless, there is a great cloud of witnesses—runners who have ran before you. Many of whom felt the humiliation of stumbling, such as Adam, Samson, and David. But by the grace and mercies of God, they got back up, in spite of pain and the jeering of their antagonists. They finished their race and entered the land of Glory. They became champions, not because of perfection, but because of the perseverance of their faith in God. These men (and there are many women as well: Sarah, Hannah, Ruth, etc.) are amongst the great cloud of witnesses cheering you on, encouraging you to not give in and to not give up.
Regardless of the stumble, in spite of the fall; no matter the pain, shame, or regret—get up and keep running the race! Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Get up—for love of God and Country—keep running the race! It is not perfection that will make you a champion, but the perseverance of your faith. And remember, in Christ you are already more than a conqueror (see Rom. 8:37)!