Running a Better Race – Hebrews 12:1-3

There is no shame in starting something and not being able to finish it. That’s what I told myself when I decided to learn how to write for publication at what I thought was an advanced age. I didn’t know what my writing path would look like – I just knew I wanted to approach it with gusto.

It’s been a wonderful journey. The writing and publishing professionals I’ve worked with have enriched my life in many ways, and I thank God that he has made himself known through our efforts.

Recently, however, my trail took a turn that had made it clear that in order to proceed I needed to put some of my projects aside.

As I mentioned on the Story Night podcast which is linked in an earlier post, I have a book nearing completion. It brought me finalist status in the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade contest. Editors from three different publishing houses asked to see it when finished.

But now the book is on the shelf, and it may never be finished.

One of my favorite photos of Colby, my sister-in-law, shows her perched on a narrow mountain path overlooking a deep canyon. The trail demands climbers stay focused as they move along single file. When one wants to pass another, both parties keep a grip on the chain with one hand at all times.

Colby said she trained for months before making the climb, knowing that accomplishing it would be worth the effort.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV

At this time I don’t feel I’m targeted by hostile forces, as the verses in Hebrews 12 mention. My struggle is with chronic pain associated with joint issues in multiple sites. In order to run my life race on the course marked out for me, I must lighten my load.

And like my sister-in-law was thankful for the chain anchored on the side of the mountain, I appreciate the limitations that inform me of where my boundaries are. I just pray I remain faithful, and not become weary or fainthearted, that I might continue to work with what God gives me.

While reading Paul’s letters to the believers at Philippi and Colossae this week, I came to the realization that the apostle suffered difficulties in his life’s work, too. Being chained in prison surely wasn’t part of his ideal plan. He planned to take more trips to strengthen the believers in the churches he oversaw, but he was detained.

And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received from the Lord.” I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Colossians 4:16-18 ESV

Perhaps, if Paul hadn’t been restrained in prison, he wouldn’t have written the letters that teach and encourage believers even today. His limitations helped build my faith.

Let’s also remember each other’s chains, and pray for each other. And may we not release our grip unless it’s to help us run a better race, or until we’re secure on the other side.


To help with your study of the Bible, here’s a link to Biblegateway.com’s Bible reading plans.

By Kathy Sheldon Davis

Kathy Sheldon Davis, contributing author of Jesus Talked to Me Today and a finalist for the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade award, lives with her husband, Jerry, in Oregon's fertile Willamette Valley. Kathy enjoys mentoring and editing for other writers, making strangers into friends, and celebrating holidays with her extended family. She has written for Pathways—Moments with God since 2016 and posts devotionals on her blog at kathysheldondavis.com .

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