by Dr. Michele White
INKSTER, MI – Two years ago, God allowed me to experience a milestone birthday. The big 5-0! Since my birthday was at the end of the year in December, I decided to set a physical fitness goal for myself. I wanted to run/walk 50K before I turned 50. I vividly remember my first race. It was a very crisp morning that captured my breath by making circles in the air. Due to the cold, I was dressed from head to toe in winter attire.
As the race began, I became immediately distracted. I began noticing the droves of people passing me. I remember feeling like a hamster on a wheel, not progressing like everyone else. I was also becoming overheated because I had put on way too many layers of clothing. During the race, I had to slow down to remove my heavy coat. Praise God that I finished that first race.
Now, fast forward to my last and final race held in December, when the weather was quite cold. I came prepared very differently than my first race. I had minimal layers of clothing, and remember being quite uncomfortable at the start of the race due to the frigid temperature. However, as I began to run, two amazing things happened. As I ran, I understood that if I kept looking forward, the finish line would be within my eye’s view. I was so fixed on the finish line that I did not pay attention to anyone running in front of me or in back of me. Also, as I ran, I became quite comfortable having the minimal layers of clothing.
In Hebrews 12:1-2, we see a very similar picture in God's Word. God has given us amazing encouragement, and instructions on how to live daily. This particular passage is a rich theological gold mine that I encourage you to dig further and mine for Biblical treasures.
In Hebrews 12:1, God is telling us to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race set before us. The word encumbrance here means anything that hinders you from running the race.
Earlier, I mentioned that I was uncomfortable starting the race because I had laid aside my heavy clothing. In our Christian walk, the same thing occurs. At the start of where God calls us to begin the race, we want to hold on to all of our “heavy clothing”. We want to hold on to our own knowledge, our education, our titles, etc.
Sometimes our pride in these areas can be the very sin that entangles us, and prevents our endurance because we become self-reliant and not God-reliant. Have you ever looked at the clothing that marathon runners wear? They wear the lightest articles of clothing, so that they are not hindered in their running. For my Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) brothers and sisters, today is an opportunity to become uncomfortable and let God direct your race path.
In verse 2, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus. Wherever God has called you to be in the race, you are to fix your eyes on Jesus and not pay attention to the race of others who are before you or after you. If your eyes are so fixed on Him, your peripheral vision becomes blurred and you can’t pay attention to those things that hinder your focus on Him.
Now that we are in 2021and your race is before you, the question is……..What are you laying aside in 2021 to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, as you run your race?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Michele White currently serves in leadership as a Deaconess, Finance Chair and Praise Team member at Middlebelt Baptist Church in Inkster, MI. She resides in Ypsilanti, MI and is married to her best friend Paul for 27 years. They have 5 children and 1 grandchild. Dr. White is a licensed Psychologist and Counselor and is the owner of WBC Counseling in Ann Arbor, Flint, Southfield, and Livonia.