I was sent to finish the race

Perseverance

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday, 28th June 2020

Alpha and Omega, detail from the east window in Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield.

This week I missed going to my life group. All I needed to do was to simply click on a link in Whatsapp and I would have been in the Zoom meeting, but I simply forgot. I have no excuse. There had been a change to my planned activities that evening, my wife had gone out shopping, and as often happens when a change is made I go on a full reset of planned activities. Instead of doing something I did nothing. That’s autism for you.

This week at Holy Trinity was the final week of our ‘Stand’ sermon series and Vicar Mike was preaching, exploring Perseverance – how do we keep running the race of life in Christ?

Before that our Youth Minister Wayne had led the service twice mentioning the marathon tee shirt he was wearing, unfortunately due to the camera angle it looked like he was in a plain white tee.

The sermon started with a YouTube video of a man trying to finish a race with the finishing line in sight, but was falling over, legs like jelly he was that exhausted. Eventually he finished by rolling over the line. All the time people were shouting encouragement.

Running in a race is used as a metaphor for following Jesus. We may feel like giving up. This led to a short Bible passage:

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 that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12 1-3 NIV UK

We need to keep pressing on in the faith. The passage highlights a few things:

1 We are not alone.

We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Not just those who have gone before us, but other Christians who have gone through what we have gone through the same things we are going through, some have had it worse than we have.

2 Throw off any hindrance.

I recently had to throw off spending time on Facebook it was making anxious, and getting in the way of time with God. We need to get rid of things that hold us back, especially sin. Sin hamstrings us, if we tolerate habitual sin it will trip us up.

3 Run the race with perseverance ,endurance and resilience.

Running the race is not a sprint, more like an iron man. Spiritual disciplines connect ourselves with Jesus. If we hit the wall, completely run out of energy, we need to keep on. Jesus way marked out for us is better than any path we mark out for ourselves.

4 Keep your eye on the prize.

In a film American basketball player Michael Jordan spoke about single mindedness to fix eyes on what is in front of him. Nicky Gumbel said, “For every one look within take 10 looks at him. Jesus is what demands our attention.

5 Consider the cross

Remember all that Jesus faced on our behalf,the humiliation of the cross. We were shown a picture of an athlete from Tanzania, John Stephen Ahkwari who was running in the marathon in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. Less than halfway in he ell and dislocated his knee, yet finished, coming in to a stadium of only a few thousand people with the knee heavily strapped. He said, “My country didn’t send me 5000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish the race.”

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