“ Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)
This verse refers back to Hebrews 11 and the “hall of faith,” which commends the saints who persevered and fulfilled God’s calling on their lives despite adversity and without seeing any sign of the promise being fulfilled in their lifetimes. Now Hebrews 12 depicts them as spectators to ancient Olympic games, all past winners who ran the race and finished well, who now are in the stands cheering us on as we shoot out from the starting line or struggle to keep going as we reach the dead stretch where we’re exhausted and tempted to give up and quit.
Here we are encouraged to take inspiration from them and their testimonies, seek and lean on faith and strength given to us from God, and keep going. It also urges us to identify everything clinging to us that weighs us down, tires us out, and keeps us from being everything and doing everything God called us to do. It appears to point out that not all of these “weights” are sins and hence specifically forbidden by scripture for all runners in the race. Some of them might well be things that would be neutral or even beneficial to other runners in the grand mystery of the diversity of God’s creation.
Let us each be attentive to God’s spirit and seek discernment from him. Lord, we thank you for the testimonies of the saints who have followed you before us. Strengthen us today, that we might also run well and finish the race. Open our ears to hear your voice, show us what hinders us specifically and grant us the will to obey your conviction of our hearts and cast off everything that keeps us from a closer relationship with you and hinders us from being the godly, holy person you created us to be, and which keeps us from fulfilling our calling. Change our hearts so we might love you more than what causes us to stumble. Check us also, Lord, from assuming what hinders us is wrong for everyone, where your word does not specifically forbid it. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.