A picture was taken by a friend of mine at the Colorado versus Hawaii football game of my son. A picture can paint a thousand words, but this spoke only one to me: lonely. Waiting on the sideline alone, helmet in hand, studying every play, anticipating his call to get in the game. Although a crowd surrounds him, erupting with noise of excitement or disappointment, it seems to fade into the background. He only anticipates one sound, the coach saying, “Get in the game!”
Have you ever felt that you personally are standing on the sidelines, waiting to get in the game? That everyone else seems to be getting their call, but you are still waiting. Others around you seem to be getting their chance, but you don’t. You keep holding your head up, putting in the practice time, encouraging others, but you continue to wait. Time goes by, seasons end and still you are waiting. Years may pass and you continue to wait.
How do you handle it? Do you give up? Throw in the towel and quit? Do you inwardly begin to seethe and let bitterness take root? Do you allow anger to erupt and spew out on others? Seek revenge? Begin thinking that you are a failure and give away your confidence? How do you personally deal with being left out, forgotten, and turned away or loss?
What the camera lens did not capture in this picture was a whole sideline full of other football players, the coaches and support staff. Over 100 people were surrounding him. At times we only see a glimpse of a whole picture which changes the entire scene. Also not seen was an entire stadium filled with people encouraging them on. The family and friends that were there anticipating right along with them. What appears to be…..is not always the whole picture.
Hebrews 12 begins with, “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race marked out for us. We do this by fixing our eyes on Jesus….”
Every one of us has a race marked out individually for us. Recalling running track in high school, I had my own lane on the track to run in. Nice clear white chalked lines and my own starting block were waiting to launch me into the race. If it was a short race, I continued in my lane. If it was a longer race after a designated time, I could move over into the inside lane. The fondest memory I had of those days was my coach. He was very active in encouraging us on. While we were running on the track, he was running alongside us on the infield, shouting out our name, how well we were doing, and pushing us to do better. Because my coach did not just sit around and bark out orders, but was running the race with me, it cultivated my respect toward him, and caused me to push myself. My eyes were fixed on my coach and I wanted to win that race even more!
Today when I read that verse I am reminded of that coach so many years ago. He etched in my mind forever a picture of the kind of coach Jesus is. He is running the race with us, giving us everything we need to succeed, and encourages us to keep going. We all have a race before us, but many times there are things that hinder us as verse 1 says. As you see in many sports the players come out on the track, the court, or field in warm up suits. Prior to beginning the game they throw off the suits and are ready to begin the game without entanglements. Can you imagine basketball players playing with their warm up suits on or a runner coming to the starting block wearing ankle weights? We are encouraged first to throw off everything that hinders. What hinders you?
We are inspired to get rid of the sin that so easily entangles us. Sin like a weed, will wrap itself around our legs and make us ineffective. When we are called to run a race our legs obviously need to be free to run. Sin will constantly keep tripping us up and not allow us to run our race and be everything God designed for us to be. Do you realize that God wants you to win? He knows what waits for you at the finish line, but you give up by being entangled with sin. Sin is also very deceiving, because it only feels good for a while then it is disappointing. Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you wanted to pay.
You have a race custom built for only you to run. God designed it especially for you and has given you the gift and talents to do so. He has given you everything you need to run, but WE have to take off the weights that hinder us and get rid of the sin that entangles. Then we can run the race with endurance as we fix our eyes on Jesus, our personal coach and trainer. Although we do not see the whole picture, He knows what is around turn two or turn four in your life. It may seem like all you do is wait, but He is using the time to work in you what you will need to experience what is around turn two. Trust him and know that he has your best interest at heart. And along with that a GREAT big stadium full of well-wishers to encourage you, to GET IN THE GAME!
Get on your mark….Get set….GO!