Our goal is eternity and it takes a lot of work, it is a long process. There is training involved. It’s not unusual to look at that statement as daunting, as running an ultra-marathon would be - you can make either happen if that’s what you really want. There is a highway of holiness the redeemed will walk upon, trying to reach the presence of God.
What will it take? 4 things:
1. Courage. People running a race will have fear - can I even finish? Will I embarrass myself? 12:1 - let us run the race. You have to get out there. Chapter 10 says we are not those who shrink back. We have faith, we have confidence, we need to progress forward. Forget the doubts. Get past the fears. We may have family or friends that can impact our spiritual race negatively. What will we do about that? The race is there, whether we want to admit it or not, whether we think we’re prepared or not. Chapter 11 is all about that. By faith these people did what they knew they needed to do, what God wanted them to do.
2. Concentration. We will have to focus. Lay aside every weight, get rid of the obstacles. We need to focus on what is most important in life, Jesus said that was the kingdom of God, and if we sought that first, other things will take care of themselves. Single focus. Get rid of the excess. We fix our eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith. We are trying to get to Him. Something may not be sinful but is it best for you, for the race you are in? So ask the right question - not just is it sinful, but is it an obstacle to getting you into the presence of God? Focus takes sacrifice. Michael Phelps had phenomenal pre-race routines that he adhered to without exception to put himself in the best possible place to win his races. He had removed all obstacles. We must do the same.
3. Commitment. Let us run with endurance. Heb 11:13 - these all died in faith not having received the promise but seeing it from afar... these people never even saw the end physically, but they kept at it, realizing it was far off in the distance. It is the same for us. We need to look to the end, ignoring the obstacles. Moses was looking to the reward, the Bible says, so he gave up the pleasures of the world at his disposal. The way we react to trials, for example, is a checkpoint on our faith, a way to gauge our level of commitment. There will be obstacles.
4. Connection. Environment is critical to success. Willpower wanes over time. God has created a plan to help us with that, an environment where we spend time regularly with others in the same race, others facing similar obstacles. We have each other to rely upon. We need this connection. Heb 10:24-25 is not just about beating us up to attend regularly. It is there to encourage us, to help us realize our need for one another, how we can help one another. We have a responsibility to one another.
Running for eternity is doable. Get in the race. Stay in the race.