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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," (NLT).

My great-nephew Ian is a beautiful child who chose to fight for his life at an early age. His adoptive parents are strong Christians and never allowed his diagnosis, traumatic brain injury, to become a crutch or a hindrance in motivating Ian to lead a normal life.

When Ian was a baby, a neurologist said he might never sit up or roll over. Ian has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, removed from several day care programs and expelled from GA Pre-K because of lack of resources and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for nine days for inpatient therapy. After a change in his medication, Ian runs, plays and goes to school like any normal little boy.

Ian had an accident on his bike a few weeks ago and cut a deep gash in his tongue. Hours later, the nurse gave us good news that the CT Scan came back with no report of injury and his tongue only took five stitches. As we gathered around his hospital bed, we were concerned that this would be a set back in his recent progress with speech therapy. He broke the silence saying, "I can’t see the TV." Delighted to hear him speak, we laughed and moved out of his way. Returning home to a restricted diet of liquids through a straw, he managed soft foods within two days.

As I watch Ian overcome each obstacle Satan throws at him, I pray with a new fervency asking God to help me become a champion in every area of my life.

Although you and I haven’t had the same problems as Ian, we can identify with his struggles. Hebrews 12:1-2 describes Jesus as a champion. He endured everything for you and me because he loved us and knew the joy awaiting him.

Champions must be disciplined and focused on the prize. If this is your desire too, will you join me in this prayer?

"Lord, we know you prove your love for us in many ways — through discipline, encouragement and life’s experiences. As we learn from your example, help us to embrace the challenge to be a "Champion for Jesus" because of the joy in serving you. Amen."

Colleen Capes Jackson is the director of the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers and can be reached at (404) 444-7514.