Over the last two years, I’ve started running. Nothing super impressive, but I’ve done a few 5Ks.
I can’t imagine starting a race, getting part way through, and then telling my running partners, “Hey, guys, let’s go back! The finish line is overrated anyway.”
First, I’d get trampled if I tried to turn around. And second, there would be no trophy waiting for me at the start line – only raised eyebrows and event staff who would politely but firmly remind me the race goes the other way.
Yet the temptation to look back is real, as we saw last time. However, there’s no reward for looking back. The trophy is waiting at the end.
Paul understood this and beautifully used the runner/race analogy in Hebrews 12:1-2.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NKJV).
There are some basic truths here that I hope will help us when we’re tempted to look back or quit.
- We’re not alone. As Paul says, we’re “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” Other believers have run the race before us; others are running it with us today.
- We need to let go of whatever is holding us back. Runners train with weights, but they don’t compete with them. What weights in our lives are holding us back from our full potential? Maybe there’s sin we need to confess and get right with God. Whatever is “ensnaring” us, we have to get free of it in order to run.
- We need endurance. I didn’t have to run very long before I realized endurance isn’t genetic. It’s something I’ve had to develop over time, and I only develop it by running a little farther today than I did yesterday. The Christian life demands endurance, and we can only grow it by depending on Christ in the small trials of today and allowing Him to stretch us according to His plan.
- We have to keep our eyes on the prize. This goes back to what we learned about looking upward at our Savior. He’s the reason we can run, and His promise of eternal salvation and an “inheritance incorruptible” (I Peter 1:4) are the prize waiting at the finishing line.
With rare exception, nothing is gained by looking back, but everything is won by pressing on.
Two of my favorite verses are Philippians 3:13-14.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (KJV).
Don’t quit. Don’t turn back now.
Are you with me?