“Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” -Hebrews 12:1-2
Just recently, this verse has been stuck in mind day after day, being taught to me by fellow staff members, pastors, friends, etc. It seems to be a reoccurring verse in my life for the past two weeks. So far so good, right? Well, last night around 9:00 pm, I was shooting basketball in our gym here at the church. All I was doing was shooting some basketball to relieve stress and getting things off my mind. Until God spoke to me and said, “run with endurance.” Let’s back up for a minute before I continue on with the story. Last weekend, I had the chance to go to Reboot, which was a youth and children leadership conference for the weekend. Met a ton of new people to connect with throughout the ministry, but one night, I was really struggling. Just to be honest, I was afraid my step that I took. You could call it a step of faith. Just graduating from Lee University in December 2011, then two weeks later, being a full-time youth pastor in Charlottesville, VA. One night, I was praying for God to help me let go of the “being afraid” and to let Him to take control. At that moment, God spoke to me and said, “You just be faithful, and I will do the rest.” Wow. You can say that my world was turned upside down at that point. That night, we were talking about Abraham in Genesis 22, when he was commanded by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac. All God wanted to know was if He was first in Abraham’s life, and when Abraham showed God that by taking his son Isaac to the mountain top, and just as Abraham was about to kill Isaac, God stopped him and said, “Stop! Do not lay a finger on the boy. Now I know that you fear God and have no withheld him from Me.” God has a way with getting to people’s hearts and this was the way he got to mine that night of the conference. Back to the gym… As I was in the gym, I saw Hebrews 12:1-2 written on the walls of the gym on a poster. I began to reflect on my past glory days in high school. For my junior and senior year of high school, I was on the basketball team at McMinn County High School. It was my dream. I loved basketball. Basketball was my life. I slept, ate, drank, ran, walked, breathed basketball. It was my life. I was getting the playing time that I was wanting, and it ate at me inside for a long time. It was time that I put a stop to it all, so…I quit. Yep, I quit my senior year of high school. I was tired of trying to please the coach with all my work. I was tired of my work going not seen, so my way of resolving it was to quit. Well, guess what? I regret it every day. Sometimes, I wish I could go back and finish up high school not being known as the “quitter” but instead be known as the man of God who persevered. And as I was shooting basketball last night, I told myself that I would not quit in ministry or in my marriage or in my time later on to be a father.
When God tells us in Hebrews to “run with endurance” He literally means to run with endurance. God doesn’t mean stop and take a break, but to PERSEVERE! It’s a command. God is looking for men and women everywhere to see who can use and to see whose heart is completely His (2 Chronicles 16:9). So wherever you are, whether you’re in ministry, working at Pizza Hut, or in school still, run with endurance. Do not feed into the enemy’s lies and fall into the traps of the enemy. God is more than enough to bring you out of the pit. Whatever you are doing, do not quit. I will tell you again. Do not quit. No matter how hard your boss might be, no matter how many people make you mad at your job or just don’t care about you, know that there is One who knows your heart and does care and His name is Jesus. He came not to condemn the world, but the come so that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17). Persevere. Run. Steadfast. Endure. In due time, your work will pay off. Do not give up on your job or marriage just because the world tells you that its too hard. God wants to walk with you through those trials and tribulations. Be known, just as David was, “a man after God’s own heart.” Press on. Do not do your work as for men, but for the Lord.