Our Lenten Devotion for Monday, March 14, comes to us from Steadfast Love which features reflections and prayers by Ed Arle and Gil Duchow with inspiration from the works of Henri J.M. Nouwen.
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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
“Run the Race”
“But the joy of the Gospel is a joy born on the cross. It is not the sterile happiness of victory parties, but the deep joy that is hidden in the midst of the struggles. It is the joy of knowing that evil and death have no final power over us, a joy anchored in the words of Jesus: “In the world you will have trouble but be of good cheer; I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33).
(from Peacework by Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 81Henri)
A friend told me of his less-than-perfect efforts at running marathons. He was in good physical condition in college, so he figured he could do the run without much trouble. Somewhere along the 15-mile mark, his legs and knees started to buckle. He would have fallen to the ground had it not been for two fellow runners who supported him long enough for him to regain some strength and continue the race. When he shared that story, I was reminded of St. Paul’s comparing life to a race in which all the runners press forward to claim the prize that awaits at the finish line. For Paul, though the race is long and hard, the key to winning is in keeping our eyes on Christ knowing we have the support of others to cheer us on.
As we consider the races of all kinds that we run throughout our lives, we might feel that we have faltered or even seemed to fail. And yet, we have eventually finished the race somehow, often because someone has offered a helping hand. Or perhaps the situation has changed unexpectedly, and we have found our way. Paul is reminding us that our ability to finish that race, whatever it is, is a gift from God in whom we trust with all the races we are called to run.
Lord, with eyes on the cross, give me the strength of your Spirit to help me run the race of this life to your glory. Amen.