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I live in the Memphis, Tennessee area.
And in our town, we are home to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
This hospital is amazing and takes such great care of kids and their families – most of whom are dealing with cancer and cancer-related illnesses.
The hospital holds a big marathon each year.
People come from around the world to run in the St. Jude Race, which includes a full marathon, a 13K, a 10K, and a 5K. Some walk. Many run. It’s quite an event.
The race takes place on the first Saturday in December.
Sometimes it’s very cold. Other times the weather is quite mild.
The race begins at about 7:00 AM.
As the racers gather and prepare to run, it’s always fascinating to see what they do.
Some runners (like me) will add layers on. They will walk or run with gloves and hats and coats.
Others will strip down to where they have very little more than shoes, shorts, and a light T-shirt.
It seems that those are running that are running the farthest will dress in the lightest, most aerodynamic clothing.
They don’t want their clothes or the heaviness of coats, gloves, and hats to hold them back.
Everything they do is to give them more agility and speed as they run.
Key Question to Keep Going
Have you ever thought about the fact that you and I are running in a race?
It’s not a regular race, but it is a marathon.
And we must get up every single day and choose to keep going.
It’s a daily option… how we will race, how we will run, and how we will finish.
The Goal of the Race – Why We Keep Going
I’d like to give you 5 things to keep you going!
And keep you going strong.
These are 5 things to remember as you are walking, praying, and seeking to find hope, joy, meaning, and purpose this year.
To Set the Stage, Let’s Read Hebrews 12:1-2…
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
Here are 5 things to remember as you are running today – they all come from Hebrews 12:1-2.
FIRST THING TO REMEMBER – Remember the witnesses who are endured and made it through before us.
- Think of all of those who have gone before us! Think of all of those who poured into you – teachers, coaches, parents, grandparents, pastors, Sunday school teachers, friends, family members, bosses.
- They paved the way.
- They set the tone, and they set the example.
Remember your grandparents who sacrificed so you and I wouldn’t have to.
I think of my and my husband’s grandparents and our parents who have gone before us… Mabel, Joe, Lucille, Milton, Vernon, Tommy Jo, Roland, Sarah, and others.
Another Example to Help You Keep Going
I had an awesome professor in college. His name was George Stokes, and he taught public speaking in his last year as a professor.
I was 19. He was 75.
George Stokes took an interest in my life.
One day after class, Dr. Stokes told me that I could be a great public speaker.
He said, “You can be good at this, and I can help you to get there.”
And that’s exactly what he did!
I looked back and I am so grateful for the investment George Stokes made into my life.
I would probably not be sitting at this microphone talking with you if he had not pushed me a whole lot!
Have you also had some men and women invest in your life?
Teachers, coaches, Bible teachers, pastors, parents, grandparents?
TIP – When you get discouraged, remember others who came before you, survived, and inspired you. They made it through the race of life! If they did it, we can too!
SECOND THING TO REMEMBER – Remember that this life is a marathon, not a sprint!
We aren’t just running around the track a few times; we are in this for the long haul.
Each lap is a season, and it will pass.
But we have to finish each lap, in order, in time, no matter what.
I think back about some conversations I had with my kids during the virus, lockdowns, and all of the drama of the last 2 years.
There was a certain time in 2020 when we talked about whether it would ever be over.
I remember one day vividly telling them that it would end.
We will look back one day and say, “Remember that crazy virus? Remember that lockdown? Remember when… It will not last forever. It will be over one and be a thing of the past.”
I STILL do believe this is just a blip on the screen of time! It will not last forever.
When we think of it in the light of eternity, it is just a very small segment of time.
A Great Example of Eternity
Francis Chan – author and preacher – shared the most wonderful example of this on YouTube.
He held up a long white rope… maybe 100 feet. He had draped it across an entire stage.
Then, he drew our attention to one little section that was painted red.
He suggested that the white rope represented all of eternity.
The little red part represented our days on this earth. They are very quick and very short.
This time will pass quickly!
Whatever you are going through will pass before you know it. It will not last forever!!
TIP – When you get discouraged, remember this is just a lap on the course!
It’s not forever!! It will end!
You will get through this!
- Keep praying!
- Keep trusting God!
- And… Keep going!
THIRD THING TO REMEMBER – Remember to lay aside the weights that hinder you and hold you back.
- What is weighing you down?
- What is holding you back?
- Who is bringing you down?
Are there habits, ways you are spending your time, things you are eating or drinking that are keeping you from doing all God wants you to do?
These aren’t sins, they are just not the best things.
Some Examples Might Include:
- Your cell phone,
- Too much time on social media,
- Or, too much sugar or
- Too much Diet Coke,
- Not enough sleep,
- Too much sleep,
- Not being in church.
TIP – When you get discouraged with the weights that trip you up, let something go!
Lay something aside!
Have you heard the story about the donkey and the well?
There’s a story about a donkey that was owned by a cruel farmer.
The farmer got very upset with the donkey and put him down in a dry well.
Then, the cruel farmer would dump dirt down into the well onto the donkey.
(This is just a fable. No animals were hurt in this story!)
Then, the donkey did a very interesting thing!
Each time the farmer dumped dirt on him, he would brush it off, shake it off and stomp on it.
Eventually, the donkey had brushed off so much dirt and stomped on it, that he was able to walk out of the well.
The very dirt that was dumped on him, became his escape from the deep and dark well.
People are going to do and say hurtful and sometimes mean things to you and your family.
They are going to say things about your husband and you.
If you can learn to brush these things off, you will find so much more joy!
There’s a great word that I heard a great speaker share something years ago at a pastor’s wife’s conference.
It was the best suggestion. This lady was in ministry, and she said that as people say and do things that hurt you, you need to learn to brush them off.
Brush it off!
She said that she walked down the hall at church or work brushing things off.
I know this may be hard for you to believe, but I sometimes get mean messages, rude comments, thoughtless remarks.
I either dwell on them, let them take me out, or upset my world.
Or I seek to brush them off and move on in victory!
And, you may be the nicest lady ever, you will still have people do and say things to you that will hurt.
Brush it off!
Brush these things off!
Don’t let it stick to you!
Instead, shake them off, brush them off, and use them to help you to walk on in victory!
FOURTH THING TO REMEMBER – Remember to get rid of the sin that so easily trips you up.
Are there some things, people, or situations that are bringing you down and leading you to sin?
Are you opening the door just a little and letting the sin in the room?
Or maybe your sin is an attitude or an unwillingness to forgive someone else?
Let’s talk about this one for a minute…
These sins we are to lay aside. The things that trip us up.
Let’s camp here for a minute.
For example… a sin that easily trips us up could come:
With Friends – Most of us have 2 groups of friends that tug at us. One group will lead you to soar, the other group can lead you to sin. Be careful which group you are spending the most time with! Some will drag you down!
With Men – I’ve talked to too many amazing Christians who blew everything for a fleeting affair. Are you flirting with disaster right now? Are you talking with a man online, at work, or at the gym who is not your husband? Be so careful.
Not willing to forgive. Have you been holding on to some hurt that you just can’t seem to let go of?
Maybe you are mad at someone. You may need to start praying for this person and asking God to drain your anger. You can let them go and be free!
TIP – When you get discouraged, give up the sin! Put away the sin.
Don’t even give it a little opening!
Author Terri Blackstock.
In the back of one of her books, she wrote…
“During the lockdown, we’ve drifted a little and allowed some things into our lives that we never would have thought we’d allow.”
“Some of us who know better have forgotten who we are, and what we’re made to do.”
FINAL THING TO REMEMBER – Remember to keep looking to Jesus!
Fix your eyes on Him – Read Hebrews 12:2-4 again.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.”
Listen – Jesus understands.
- He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
- He made it through and now sits at the right hand of Jesus.
- And He is the only One who can fix your situation, handle your concerns, and answer your prayers.
- Jesus is the answer and our only hope!
- We can trust Him – no matter what!
Tip – Keep your eyes looking up!! That’s where the hope is!
An Example to Help Us to Keep Going
I played basketball in high school.
I was a shooting guard and one of the ones who brought the ball down the court each time to set up the plays.
My high school basketball coach (Coach Maclin) taught us…
Look at me every time you come down the court. Not at the crowd, not at the other team, not even at the other players.
Look at me, and I’ll tell you the play. I’m watching over the game, and I’ll help you!
I see things you can’t see.
Trust me to manage things for you!
The same is true for us!
We look to Jesus! Not at the crowd or the other team. Not even at the other players.
Jesus will tell us the plays. He sees things we cannot see.
We can trust HIM to manage things for us!
The great philosopher Snoopy says, “Keep looking up. That’s the secret of life!“
Final Word to Keep Going
Joy and hope – only comes in and through one person – Jesus!!
Have you heard this song?
“Let Me Tell You Bout My Jesus” (Anne Wilson)
He makes a way where there ain’t no way
Rises up from an empty grave
Ain’t no sinner that He can’t save
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
His love is strong and His grace is free
And the good news is I know that He
Can do for you what He’s done for me
Let me tell you ’bout my Jesus
And let my Jesus change your life
Joy comes through Jesus!
We keep going by keeping our eyes fixed on Him!
Conclusions as We Seek to Keep Going
We started today by talking about the St. Jude race.
Runners get ready to run and carefully choose what they will wear. Much goes into race prep.
Today, I encourage you to carefully prepare to run this race by remembering what matters…
- Remember that many have run before us and made it to the end of the race. They ran well & finished well.
- Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We take it one mile or one lap at a time.
- Remember to lay aside anything that may be slowing you down or messing up your race.
- Remember to get rid of those sins that trip you up. Just get away from them or get them away from you!
- Remember to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the Author and Finisher of your faith!
To Encourage You to Keep Going, Here is a Gift!
Our ministry partner, Love Worth Finding, has a resource that will help you stay focused on Jesus.
It is a Scripture Writing plan called “Get Unstuck” – download it & start writing scripture each day to keep your mind fixed on Him.
Here is the link – Get Unstuck.
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