Before this year of school came to a close I was sitting in my third period World History class. We were not studying World History that day. We were on chapel schedule which made us have a shorter class period. I didn’t want to introduce our new subject until the following week. So, I allowed my students to study for a final in their next class.
They wrote Hebrews 12:1 on the board and were trying to memorize the verse for the Bible 10 final. Over and over they repeated the verse. Out loud. One word at a time. Then they removed words and had to fill in the blanks. They almost had it memorized. I loved to hear them—in unison their voices repeated this incredible exhortation of the Hebrew writer. There were bursts of laughter and cajoling. Many stops and starts.
God shows up in the most unexpected places. Yes, they were studying His Word. For the test? Probably. But the Word of God was planted in their hearts and it will grow. It will produce fruit. But this study session wasn’t just for them.
Often times I think I learn far more from my students than they learn from me.
As I listened to the rhythmic litany of the words of Hebrews the last phrase exploded behind my head. The leader of the group’s voice was right behind my right ear, my back to him. But the words:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by witnesses let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
I opened my Bible to read the words myself to make sure my ears were hearing correctly. How many times have I read this verse? Yet—the race is marked out for us.
This was an epiphany.
Others have probably simply understood it from the beginning, but Tamera can be quite dense at times.
I am not supposed to run someone else’s race.
No, I am to run with perseverance, not someone else’s race, but the one my Father marked out for me.
I don’t run. First of all, believe me you would not want to see me run. Even though the phrase offends me slightly, I do run like a girl. Second, my family cringes when I run and they beg me not to even speed or power walk. That’s how I broke my ankle. I was running.
Anyway, I don’t run. But if I did, I would want the race marked out for me. I would want mile markers and signs and directional arrows just for me. And God has done that for me.
He’s made my race personal.
He knows the bends and turns where I will falter and stumble. He knows the rocky places that will slow down my pace. He knows I will lose clarity when I get to the wooded places. He knows I will struggle with my breathing in the high places. And he knows at what points in the race I will grow weary. He also knows the places of beauty I will pass and the points of interest that will encourage me. He knows what will distract me. He knows me, so he tailor-made my running route.
He gave me instructions for the race. Often I don’t understand them. He gave me encouragers who stand along the roadside and cheer for me—slow as I am. But he decided to do more. He came and ran the race ahead of me. He ran my race.
But God didn’t stop there either. He runs the race with me now. I don’t run alone. Regardless of how I think or feel on this race I am running I am never alone.
I do not run alone. He promised me he would never leave nor forsake me.
This metaphor begins to lose its revelation for me because I do not run, but I understand. My race is not a revamped version of someone else’s route. My race is similar to all the races run in history, but not identical.
This relieves me.
I am not expected to run someone else’s race. I am expected to run mine. And I don’t have to run it alone.
And thanks to my third period World History class I almost have this verse memorized.