It’s been a busy week this week, one in which multitasking was required. My ability to stay FOCUSED was definitely put to the test. If you missed the devotional last week, it was based on the theme of our upcoming Vacation Bible School: “FOCUS-Taking a Closer Look”. Here is the theme verse for VBS:
“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
For review, we know that life is full of things that hinder, distract, and even entangle us. Multitasking can be one of those things. Sometimes it’s necessary, but it can be a great hindrance leading to added stress, burn out, poor health, inefficiency, lack of productivity, and greater entanglement. In order to be great or a master of something, we have to narrow our focus, make choices, and say no to things that will get us off course, even good things.
For a follower of Christ, our focus or fixation should be on Christ, and not “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. Jesus is the one who keeps us on course and headed in the right direction. If you’re not a follower of Christ, it’s still good advice. Removing obstacles, negativity, destructive behavior, and entanglements are great way to reboot and refocus our lives on the things that are really important.
FOCUS is vitally important to our success in all areas of life, but there is another element that is required according to the writer of Hebrews, PERSEVERANCE. Hebrews 12:1 says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Perseverance is “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”.
The writer of this biblical passage is not mentioned in the book of Hebrews, but it is believed to be the Apostle Paul. If it is Paul, he understands and is keenly aware of the difficulties and delays of achieving success, and “running the race that is marked out for us”. He knows about things that hinder and entangle. His encouragement to persist, persevere, and keep running the race comes from experience. He knows how hard it is, in fact he is still running the race as he writes this encouragement. It’s almost like a fellow runner or competitor cheering us on. “Don’t quit! Hang in there! Keep fixing your eyes on Jesus!” He knew what it was like to be weary and worn out.
“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 NIV
Paul’s race is over. He is now a part of that “cloud of witnesses” that we are surrounded by from Hebrews 12:1. We have a cheering section. My mom and dad are there too. I can’t see them, but I believe they are there cheering me on. They will be there when I get to the finish line, when I come face to face with Jesus, our biggest cheerleader. I’m not sure how I’ll finish the race. I may have to crawl across the line, but I want to finish.
I will admit that I had a difficult time finishing this devotional today. I know it’s not a big deal, but I have a “thing” about finishing things. Maybe, it’s because my dad always said, “son, if you start something, finish it.” My original idea just wasn’t coming together. I was getting frustrated, and then I read Hebrews 12:1-2 again. “Perseverance” just jumped out at me. The Lord must have known we all needed encouragement today, encouragement to persevere, to keep “running the race that is marked out for us”, and to remember that we are not alone.
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.