Please read Hebrews 11:32-12:2…
We have the Old Testament and the New Testament as the two parts of our Bible yet they are inextricably linked: the New complements and fulfills the Old. The Old Testament is often quoted in the New and here in this passage from Hebrews Paul recalls the incredible and, it has to be said, sometimes horrendous experiences of those who stood their ground for their faith – familiar names and others not named. How comforting and encouraging for us to read that these heroes were human like us but “whose weakness was turned to strength” (11:34). This strength was given to them by a loving and faithful God quite often in a spectacular fashion yet we can be helped in a similar way in our ‘ordinary’ day to day lives and in our relationships with our families, friends and colleagues when confronted with difficult situations or when simply having doubts about what we believe.
When I read this passage I think back to a photograph that was shown to me when just a young lad – it was used to illustrate a motto that had been adopted for a particular year by the Crusaders – a Christian youth organisation. It showed the Olympic Champion David Hemery who won the gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. He’s stretching out in mid-flight over one of the hurdles fully focussed on what lies in front of him, keeping in his lane on his way to the finishing line. Paul says:
“… and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (12:1-2)
David Hemery had lots of hurdles to negotiate on the way to his eventual victory. It’s no different for us in our lives but how encouraging are these words of Paul! We may get physically and emotionally exhausted at times but Jesus is there to pick us up – he’s the ultimate coach who will always be there to help, guide and encourage us, waiting for us at the finishing line to give us our prize.