Running the Race
August 15, 2010
Last May I preached the sermon for Horace McMillan’s ordination service in Jackson. His dad’s favorite scripture passage is the passage we have today.
It is a passage good for me to hear again. How is my race going? Am I staying focused on the fundamentals of the race?
The theme last year at Pine Lake Camp was running the race. I gave Horace one of the t-shirts from last year to help him remember his ordination day. His mother framed the shirt in a picture frame, and he has it hung in his office.
Notice that the 12th chapter starts with “therefore.”
Read 12:1a What is this cloud of witnesses?
Verse 7 mentions the life of Noah. He spent 120 years building an ark. Now that was being committed to a project. He was building a boat without water. But he stuck at it.
Now I must confess that that kind of patience is not one of my virtues. I like it to happen now or sooner.
Then I can hear Noah whisper in my ear, “Duane, how long do you say you have been waiting for this church to grow? It took me 120 years to build the ark and that was hard work. People thought I was a little crazy building that big thing. Duane, you need to just keep on.”
Next is Abraham in verse 8. He was to have a son in his old age. He and Sarah were too old to have children. What was God even thinking for this guy? He was old enough to retire and stay home. Then when he had a son, God asked him to sacrifice him.
So when things are not happening at your expectations, maybe Abraham is whispering in your ear, “Listen to God and follow him, listen carefully to what God tells you, maybe there is something in the bush waiting for you.”
Then we have Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers. He worshiped his God in a different country. He did not hurt his brothers when they came to him in need of food.
Then we have Moses, Samson, Samuel, and David. There is a cloud of witnesses who gather to cheer us on.
Then I have my dad. He is still my cheerleader. He is 80 and still has good words for me. He wrote this in the “Caring Bridge” while I was sick: “We love you. Your pain is felt up here in Michigan. Trust the goodness of God. He has never failed anyone yet. When we don’t understand God’s purpose, we can still trust his heart of love. We are praying the problem will be solved and recovery will be swift.” Glenn Maust
My Aunt Gertrude, who is in her mid 80’s, had this word of encouragement for me. “Dear Nephew, your father phoned me with the message of your sickness very soon after he heard. I have been praying for your healing ever since. I want to see your kingdom work continuing here on earth. May his will be done. ‘Jesus knows all about our struggles. He will guide till the day is done. There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus. No not one!’” Your aunt Gertrude
I am fortunate to have family like this supporting me. We all have someone supporting us. Maybe it is your church family.
Read vs 1-2
We need support when we are running the race toward Jesus.
I have asked Zachary Shelly if I could interview him about running. Come on up, Zach.
What is the first thing that your coach tells you about running?
What do you wear?
How do you get ready for a race?
Tell me a little about the marathon you were in in Tennessee last spring.
What relative raced with you?
A full marathon is 26.2 miles. What I am told, at about 20 miles a lot of runners hit a “wall.” They feel like they can’t go any more. They have to break through the wall in a mental way.
People do all kinds of things to help themselves in a race. They make sure to have the best shoes and the lightest clothes to wear. They may need a support team to get them through the race. It may take team work to make it.
Life can be like that too. We need Jesus Christ to help us get through that “wall” in those things that seem to try to stop us in our tracks.
We need to keep our focus on Jesus.
I went to a race where two of my friends were running. I left early and happened to drive by the runners on the way home. One friend didn’t even see me because he was focused on the race and the other friend waved at me with a big smile. Can you guess which one had the best time?
Are we focused on life the way we need to be? Are we being distracted by the things around us that don’t matter?
Maybe that sickness, the stress of the job, somebody you are living with, that school teacher that just does not understand.
What is it that is trying to stop you in your tracks?
What are some things we need to get rid of?