We had quite a week this past week.
For anyone who made it out to the Jeff Polen Music Ministry Banquet on Saturday night, THANK YOU for coming. I hope you had an awesome evening. I hope you were encourage, inspired, and blessed. I know that you experienced amazing food from Kidron Town & Country. I hope that you enjoyed hearing songs from the upcoming album, We Are Loved, which is set to officially release on November 16. If you missed the banquet, we are planning to premiere the “Virtual Banquet” on Saturday evening, October 30 at 6pm on YouTube. I hope you can tune in, or watch after the premiere.
The Ministry Banquet was obviously a big deal for us. We put a lot of time, energy, and effort into it. But it wasn’t the only thing we had going on last week. We also took a trip as a family to Baltimore, Maryland. On the morning of October, 9th, in Baltimore, Jodi ran her first full marathon. We had been training together for months leading up to that day. She had a goal of finishing within 5 or 6 hours, but she crushed her goal! She ran it in 4 hours and 47 minutes! I had the privilege of running with her and encouraging her every step of the way, but the truth is that her hard work and awesome attitude was a huge encouragement to me!
After the marathon we drove to Boston, Massachusetts, where I had the privilege of running in the 125th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday, October 11. What an incredible experience! I ran a little faster on Monday than I did on Saturday, finishing the marathon in 3 hours and 17 minutes. But I didn’t really have a goal in mind. In fact, I never even looked at my watch for the entire 26.2 miles. I just ran, and tried to enjoy every moment.
So we’ve been running a little hard these days. And all of this running reminds me of something from Hebrews 12.
…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV
There is something truly amazing and powerful about simply taking the next step. And then the next step. And then the next step.
Sometimes people ask me, “How in the world do you run a full marathon?” That, essentially, is the answer. You just keep taking the next step until one of those steps takes you across the finish line.
One thing that we see clearly here in this passage from Hebrews is that the weight of this world will crush us, and the destructive, clinging power of sin will hold us back—if we let it!
But we don’t have to let the weight of this world crush us, and we don’t have to let sin cling to us and hold us back.
We have been called to run the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, every step of the way.
No, you may not have been called to run a literal, physical marathon, but we have all been called to run the figurative race of life that is set before us. And for those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation, we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to run that race well.
Jesus was called to run his race directly to a rugged cross. He took the full weight of our sin and our shame upon his shoulders. And the writer of Hebrews tells us that he did it joyfully—knowing that it would mean we don’t have to carry that sin and shame on OUR shoulders. We can be free.
We can run our race joyfully, as He did, knowing that He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, and that He has sent us His spirit to empower us for the next step. And the next step. And the next step.
Today, I want to encourage you to ask yourself, “Am I running the race set before me with endurance and joy?”
If not, why not? Are you carrying the weight of the world? You don’t have to. Are you allowing sin to cling to you? Don’t. Throw it off. Run with endurance. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and simply take the next step forward.