Have we lost the ability to rest?
Failing to rest has an effect on our physical health, our emotional health so why not our spiritual health? Just like our bodies need rest to rejuvenate, so do our emotions. Ever been ridiculously overtired……...? What happens? Your emotions can get all out of whack. So imagine what happens to you spiritually if you don’t take care of that part of you?
You get out of step. Out of balance. Out of whack if you will and before you know it you are knee deep in the weeds wondering how you ended up there.
Let’s look at the race before us. And let’s look at what we need to do to run well the race before us. Close your eyes with me for just a second and picture a horse race. The horses are hot and sweaty and intense as they jockey for position. As they plunge forward, their riders beat them with their crops trying to get just a little more speed out of these amazing creatures. The horses are massive and powerful and breathtaking…………..and unbelievably focused.
If you really try you can hear the thunder of their hooves on the racetrack and the sound of their labored breathing as they give this race everything they have.
Now listen to this verse…………….
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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Let’s look at the first verse:
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,
I love the picture this brings to mind. Picture the heroes of the faith whose race is over standing on the sidelines cheering you on……….as you run your race. Look at the wisdom, the experience, the miracles that are all around us – similar to the crowd in the stands at a horse race. Look around you. Right here in this room there are people who have overcome tremendous obstacles. Some of them are in the fight of their life right now. We need each other to run our race well.
What if in your daily, everyday, normal life – you could see the heroes of the faith cheering you on – Moses here, Abraham there, David, John the Baptist, Luke, Paul….. would you stand a little straighter, fight a little harder?
And let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles……..
What is weighing you down/holding you back in your race. What do you need to leave at the track to run your race well? What weight are you carrying that isn’t yours to carry? What sin do you still play with?
Let’s move to the 2nd verse……
2 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.
Notice that in the race……..
1. Our horses have blinders on to keep them focused. Horses have peripheral vision - in order to keep the horses focused on the finish line they blind their peripheral vision. This keeps them focused on what is ahead of them instead of distracted by what is going on around them.
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…………..
Are you so busy focusing on what’s going on around you that you’ve lost sight of the finish line………? Have you forgotten what you’re even racing for? Do you need to get back on the track, throw those blinders on and make a commitment to run toward HIM instead of all that other stuff? The truth is if we have truly given our lives to Christ – HE should be the center of everything we do……..
2. We need to know what the race is all about. Those horses are racing against each other toward a finish line. The first one that crosses the finish line wins. There is only one prize. Only one horse will win. Did you notice what happens when you race against each other….you get hit by the dirt kicked up by the horses around you.
Our race isn’t against each other. We forget that a lot. I bet every one of us has a story of where you got hit by someone else’s dirt that was kicked up on the race track. And to think that it was all for nothing….because we aren’t racing each other.
I can’t compete against you because you are not running my race & I am not running yours
We all have a race to run but it’s not a competition against each other. We should be treating each other with the honor and dignity worthy of a champion. WE ARE ALL CHAMPIONS. Every one of us, no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, is an image bearer of Christ. That is how we should treat other. Let’s throw off competition and comparison and instead be a great cloud of encouragers calling forth the gold in each other.
3. You can’t stay a champion on the track. When you are on the track there is always another race to run, another race to prepare for, another horse you have to outrun. Perform, perform, perform. Champions are born in the pastures. Pastures are where they are trained and equipped for the race but also where they rest, re-charge their batteries, heal their wounds from the race track, play and rest with the other horses.
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.
He gives us perfect peace and rest.
But we have to get off the race track and into the pasture.
Thoroughbreds are bred for a purpose. To win races. You were created with a purpose. To win your race. Like horses, we are champions and we have already been crowned. But unless we take the time to step off the race track we will never see the crown that God has already placed on us. We have to step into the pasture to learn to walk in what God has already given us and learn how to walk it out……..before we step back onto the track to run again.
It is a beautiful rhythym but it can so easily be missed.
If we don’t make time for the pasture……..the race track will kill us. If we don’t set foot out of the pasture we will miss ALL that God has for us.
You were not created to live your life on the track. God is calling you to the pasture………to walk with Him.
But he also designed us to rest.
The world was created in 6 days and then God entered into rest. And if God rested. Shouldn’t we?
Especially if that day of rest brings Honor and Glory to God?
The Sabbath is designed to be a day of rest. A day to rest in HIS presence. I’m not talking about a nap; I’m talking about a Sabbath Rest. A day to step off of the racetrack and into the pasture. To walk with Him. To Talk with Him. To rest in HIM. To align your heart, your motives, your dreams with HIS.
How sold out to HIM are you? Most of us can barely sacrifice 2 hours on a Sunday morning but what if HE wants More. More of your time. More of your heart. More of your talents.
What if His dreams for you can only be discovered during times of intimacy? You can’t get intimate on the racetrack. All that noise. Thundering hooves. Heavy breathing. Cheering crowds. Yes there are rewards/benefits from the racetrack – the glory, the love of the crowd, the admiration of the world. But these things will not last. They fade. This is why he calls us from the racetrack to the pasture.
In the pasture HE gets all the glory. Our eyes connect with His. We are loved back to life. Our race wounds get washed away. We are restored. We are revived. We are renewed until the next time he calls us to the racetrack.
When is the last time that you set aside a day to just be with God? To rest in Him? To walk in His presence? Even Jesus left the crowds to be alone with the Father.
Let us pray: Father God your breath is life. Will you breathe new life into us today? Heal us. Let us find rest and peace. Strengthen us and equip us for the race you have for each of us – a race that is not a competition with each other but a walk with you.
Help us lay down position and competition. Teach us to love each other as you love us. To encourage each other as we run our race and run it well. Father God will you come alive in our hearts again tonight? Will you breathe new life into our walks with you?
Father, we repent of all the times and all the ways that we have neglected you, let other things crowd you out. Forgive us of our sin.