This morning, I found myself praying and asking for the Lord’s forgiveness. The past few days have been ones of distraction and I haven’t spent any alone time with Him at all. I haven’t read my bible, I haven’t prayed, I have spent the past two days being distracted with many things. Last night, as I was lying in bed I found myself thinking about all the things that I did these past two days. Most of them were needed, and it focused on and around my family. But there was always time to get away and be alone with Him, I just chose not to. I chose to do something else.
This morning, as I prayed, I realized that there were many times that I do this. I get caught up in other things that are either not productive or have no value or purpose at all. But, instead I wander off somewhere else and then find myself stuck and unmotivated. This happens to me quite a bit, more than I care to admit, if I am being honest. What happens is like this, the Lord asks me to let go of some area of my life, and to change the direction I am headed. So I put on my running shoes and head off with all guns blazing. But then, I get distracted, I get lost in some other area of life that has nothing to do with the track He has laid for me, and I end up falling down and feeling like a failure. It seems to be an endless cycle for me. I keep going around the same mountain without any success. I must tell you, that it gets frustrating and eventually I want to give up. But my God, He is an awesome God, and He is always there to pick me up, dust me off, clean up my wounds and set me on my feet again. And He always does so through His Word to me.
“Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
While I was praying this morning, the Lord spoke to me to “stay the course”. When I looked up “stay the course” in my bible concordance, I did not find that exact phrase. So, I did some more digging, which led me to Hebrews 12:1. The writer of Hebrews does not use the exact phrase “stay the course”, but he does show us that we are running a race and that we must stay on that path, no matter what. This just so happens to be my biggest issue when it comes to running a race. I have a tendency to wander and become distracted. I know many of us feel this same thing. We start out well on the path the Lord has laid for us, but then other things get our attention and we find ourselves trying to take a different path, or we end up going down a side trail the Lord never intended us to go down. We get discouraged and eventually give up. At least for me, that is what usually happens. So how then do I stay the course, how then do I run the race that is set before me?
First of all, I must lay aside every weight. This means that anything that distracts me is eventually going to make me fall down. To lay aside means to put away. It means to give it up, to renounce anything to do with it. The weight of distractions will hold us down. You cannot run a race if you are looking at the crowd in the stadium, or trying to carry one hundred pounds of extra weight. You will end up wearing out and falling down, you will not complete the race. All these distractions lately have become a weight. They have bogged me down, they have made me to wander and now I find myself laying face down on the track before me, injured.
Distractions can lead to so many other things while we are trying to run. They can throw us off balance, they can cause us to fall, but they can also become sin in our lives. The writer of Hebrews says that we are to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Sin is anything that causes us to miss the mark, to wander from the course we are on. It causes us to miss the finish line and end up running farther than we should have ever run. Sin is anything that takes us away from the presence and the purpose of God in our lives.
One of the things that made me realize this was the television program that I was watching last night. (I am a hopeless romantic, so Valentine’s Day movies are some of my favorites). It wasn’t the movie that was necessarily bad; there was no explicit language, no rated R nudity, nothing like that. But as I was watching the man and woman on the TV kiss, I realized that these two people were probably married to other people, and they were basically making out with someone other than their spouse on national television. As I watched, I thought to myself, is this really okay with God my Father? I can justify that there is really nothing wrong with it, but yet, if we truly look under the surface we can see that what we are watching is sin, and I am allowing that sin not only into my mind but into my heart.
All of this time that I spent watching these movies last night, could have been better spent with the Lord, running the course He has once again asked me to run. But, I chose to watch the movies instead of being with God. (* Note: These are my personal convictions and what the Lord is showing me. You have to go before God and work out your own salvation in regards to your life. I am not trying to tell you to give up all that you do, but only showing you through my personal convictions what I believe the Lord is requiring of me.) What was happening was that this was pulling me away from the Lord, and not drawing me to Him. Therefore, this has become a distraction that will eventually lead me into sin, and that is not the race that I want to be running. Anything that sets us on a different course than what God is asking of us, we need to lay it aside and stay the course. When we do not lay aside these areas of our life, what happens?
According to the writer of Hebrews, we become ensnared. We become trapped; we become more focused on ourselves and less focused on God. These distractions in my life prevent me from running the race well. They become distractions, which lead me to fall. Then I become discouraged and I end up giving up. I start out well, but I allow distractions and sin to draw me away to the point where I give up and go back to doing things the way I used to, instead of staying the course and allowing God to change me. But the Lord gives us hope and He gives us direction in His word. Those moments where I find myself being distracted, are those same moments when I need to make the choice to lay them down or let them become the weighty trap that will cause me to fall, become discouraged and eventually lead me to give up. The more I allow distractions into my life, the harder it will be for me to run. So, I must choose to lay them down or let them have their way with me.
Paul encourages us much the same the writer of Hebrews does. He writes to us to “be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) We get discouraged and fall down in our race because we allow distractions to trap our attention rather than allowing God to catch our attention. He should be my everything- all the time. The race that we are running is not an easy one; it is full of twists and turns, hurdles and obstacles at every mile. But if we do not allow distractions to draw us away, then we will be able to stay the course, we will be able to finish this race, and we will be able to say in the end, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.” (2 Timothy 4:7) I pray that you are as encouraged as I am to keep running and to stay the course no matter what distractions may come. No matter how many times we may fall upon this track of life, we can and will always have His hands to pick us up again. In Jesus Name, to Him be glory forever and ever. Amen and Amen.