Therefore, 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, 2 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. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
– Hebrews 12:1-3
The first ever sermon for GLDI began with this fitting talk that became our go-to motto for perseverance during our 40 day spiritual bootcamp. As I write through my reflections and thoughts from the notes of my GLDI handbook, I hope that beyond it being a great reminder back to me of what I have experienced, I hope that it may give some insight and help others who may stumble across this blog. I wish I wrote better notes and had neater handwriting though…
So GLDI was a microcosm of real life, and the goal set before us at the beginning of the camp was to finish well, to run with endurance. This time away from the normal routine of our lives and being completely over-fed by amazing theological talks, character building workshops, vision-setting agendas and life-long brothers and sisters in Christ. So Pastor Ben’s talk, although was meant specifically for the next 40 days, was also a great challenge in giving us the reasons as to why we should run with perseverance for this race for the rest of our lives.
- “let us also lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely”
We need to travel lightly. Sin is contrary to the word of God. We must remember that weight may not necessarily be a sin. It may be whatever that hinders you from your race. For example, social media is not sinful, but when it hinders or affects you “running”, then it becomes sinful. This passage tells us to “lay it aside”. Not only things that are sinful, but things that may actually be good but is slowing you down as it “clings so closely”.
What are some things that you thought were “good” but in reflection is actually slowing you down in this race of perseverance?
2. Whatever you do, keep your eyes on Christ. Focus on the goal.
[I honestly can’t read my handwriting for this section…]
3. Run with others
That’s what the church is for, right? We’re all in this race together. The victory is already confirmed through the resurrection of Christ. So we run with confidence and with joy, withstanding all the sufferings and pains of our present in full knowledge of the glorious finish that Christ has already set before us.
Whenever a passage starts with “therefore“, we should ask ourselves “what is it there for?”. Chapter 11 is referred to “the hall of faith”.
- Verse 1: “faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not yet seen”
- Verse 5-6: “and without faith, it is impossible to please God
- Verse 7 –> Noah had no idea what was coming to him (the concept of rain didn’t exist up till the flood) but out of reverence, he obeyed
So remember, when you run the Christian race, the great cloud of witnesses are cheering for you.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us
Romans 8:26, 37
A part of our camp involved daily morning exercises, which included a full 1.5 mile run (roughly 2.4km). I’ve NEVER in my life ran more than 1km without taking a break, and this exercise was something that I was dreading even before coming to the camp. However, I remember praying that morning and telling myself, that no matter how tired I was and no matter how much I would want to stop, I was going to keep running the race and not stop until I reached the end. I prayed that just as I won’t stop running during the 2.4km run, that it would be a reflection of my time during GLDI. That no matter how tired, worn out or frustrated I’d be, that I would continue to run with perseverance for this time during GLDI, and then for the rest of my life.
As the run started, I made sure to be extra cautious and completely set my own pace. I eventually ended up near the end of the trail, but all I kept my mind was to keep the pace I was at and to not stop no matter how much I wanted to. Pretty much for my whole run, I was praying, because I really had to. I could feel the raspiness of my throat and the stitch slowly forming on my side, but I knew that I couldn’t lose momentum.
Father, only by Your strength can I run this race without stopping, so let me get to the end.
(I know this sounds overly dramatic for a 2.4km run, but let me assure you that this was sincerely how I prayed, because never in my 22 years of existence have I ever had enough willpower to overcome my absolute distaste for long distance running. And if I had to, it was ALWAYS with good breaks in between.)
As I rounded off the last corner to the final stretch of the race, I saw the rest of my classmates waiting by the end for the rest of us to finish. As we approached closer, they started cheering and encouraging, letting us know that we were nearly there, that this race was nearly to its end. Although I was completely exhausted, I was fired up and with all my strength, sprinted the very last stretch of the race, to finish and be met with all the others.
Wow, if this is what a small crowd of classmates can make someone feel after running a 2.4km race, how much more glorious, more satisfying and more joyful would it be to meet the great cloud of witnesses throughout history cheering us on as we get closer and closer to the end of our long and arduous race. It’ll be tough, there will be times when we may even trip over and fall, where we may start taking a detour, or even start running backwards. But let us keep our eyes on Jesus, who has run the race Himself and endured all hostility from sinners so that we may have hope in Him.
Let’s lay aside everything holding us back, run with joy with all our might, and continue persevering for this race to the end.