Ever notice there’s a lot of running around in the Bible? The father runs toward the prodigal son. (Luke :15 11-32) Peter runs to behold the empty tomb of Jesus. (Luke 24:12) The metaphor of a race is used to instruct in Hebrews 12: “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.”
God likes to see us running. He calls us into His race. By faith we begin this race; by hope we continue.
Hope is hard, but it’s how we keep our faith active. It’s how we continually aim the trajectory that is our life. Faith alone can get stagnant. Without a propeller of hope, we collect dust. Hopelessness will make us feel physically sluggish. When hope is not alive in our hearts our bodies can become like that of a sloth… Our spirits feel heavier. Our lights dim. We run the risk of sitting it out.
Martin Luther puts it this way: “Where faith is not continually kept in motion and exercised, it weakens and decreases, so that it must indeed vanish; and yet we do not see nor feel this weakness ourselves, except in times of need and temptation, when unbelief rages too strongly; and yet for that very reason faith must have temptations in which it may battle and grow.” – Martin Luther
If faith is what enlists us in His army for the battle, than hope is how we soldier. And our hope must be courageous and steadfast because sometimes the path is lonely. Sometimes we aren’t sure where it leads. There are times when the race requires a sprint, and stretches where all one can do is crawl.
I encourage you to soldier on. Maybe you aren’t intended to be a literal runner. But God’s metaphor of a race reminds us to carefully train. What is hindering you in your training that you can throw off now? What fuels you so that you may persevere? Who helps your faith remain active through hope? Whatever path lies ahead, may you well say:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Last Tuesday I told you about my daughter whose lifespan was a sprint – just four beautiful days. During my pregnancy we decided to name her Runner. Today, I leave you with an excerpt from a letter I wrote explaining her name:
“Your daddy and I met many years ago when we were running together on our high school’s cross country team. Through running we learned about endurance through pain; we learned how to extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones, finding deeper strength to chase bolder goals. Your father and I have both continued to keep running as part of our lifestyle in adulthood. It has become part of the culture and identity of our family. And in being our daughter, it is a piece of the legacy that you inherit.
When I last saw your body through the monitor of ultrasound technology, I got to see your long, strong legs and healthy lungs. Though you may never tread this Earth, I’m sure that you were built to run. So run, my sweetheart… when the light shines in the distance, you chase it. Let your spirit soar to the soft landing of heaven. And when you arrive, and the gates swing wide to receive you, do not hesitate. You run through them. I believe you’ll find our Savior there. He won’t be hiding. He won’t be sitting idly somewhere. You’ll know him, because He will be pursuing you along with the beloveds that your father and I have known to go there before us, Jesus will be running towards you in heaven.
My deep hope is that, God-willing, you and I will one day run together.”