During my final year of coaching cross country, I started having my runners wear weights once or twice a week. Since I ran warm ups and cool downs with my junior high team, I also wore weights as well to see how it felt. Early on, you couldn’t tell much of a difference, but as practice wore on the harder it became to lift your legs. Although the 2.1 mile course I designed wasn’t hilly, the final .25 miles was all up hill. A perfect test for wearing weights despite complaining and whining runners at the end of practice.
You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? – Galatians 5:7
First century authors of the Bible use a series of analogies comparing life to running. This is likely due to the Isthmian Games, named after the Isthmus of Corinth. This event took place the year before and year after the Olympic Games. Since the Olympics were held only once every four years, the Pythian Games were held in the third year to complete the Olympiad cycle. In the passage above, the apostle Paul received news that Christians in Galatia were struggling likely due to the Judaizers, a religious sect who hindered their spiritual development.
Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.
Meanwhile, the author of Hebrews compares a faith journey to running a marathon. Typically, 26.1 miles, this distance requires extensive training just to compete and finish. When I was in the best shape of my life, I once tried to run 15 miles. Running with a friend from high school, he left me in the dust as I struggled to breathe the final five miles. This one experience makes me painfully aware of what Hebrews 12:1 is suggesting. In order to make it across the finish line, heaven, you need to start throwing aside any unnecessary weights. The more you discard now, the easier the homestretch will become in the future.
by Jay Mankus