Hebrews 12:1-2a (Common English Bible): "So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter.
"Mommy, slow down!" came the breathless words of my toddler as we walked down the street one day. As a first-time mom, I would often forget that my legs were much longer than my son’s. For me, it seemed we were going too slowly, but for him, we were running as fast as we possibly could.
Now, of course, he walks much faster than I do and can outrun me in a flash!
Sometimes, our daily schedules can seem like a race, as though we’re running as fast as we possibly can from one event to the next, hoping to maintain our pace. Sometimes we forget we have a running partner who is holding our hand. We forget to slow down and spend time with our partner; instead, we run on ahead, leaving our partner behind.
Sometimes, if we listen, we may hear the whispers of our running partner saying to us, "Slow down," as God reminds us that the goal of our lives is not to get from one minute to the next or even to get to the finish line before others.
The Apostle Paul compared living the Christian life to running a race of endurance, not to a sprint to see who is the fastest. We sometimes treat life as a sprint, and we tire easily and quickly of all the things we have to do.
But God gently reminds us to slow down, pace ourselves and run the race all the way to the finish, not quitting when the path grows difficult.
To be effective runners, we have to run without baggage. If you’ve ever tried to wrestle a suitcase through an airport or train station, you know that it is almost impossible to run with baggage.
So the Apostle Paul reminds us to shed the baggage. Don’t carry guilt and regret around like baggage that can slow you down. Keep your eye on the finish line as you remember the faithful runners who came before and have finished their own races. They stand at the finish line cheering us on as we continue to run with endurance the race of our own lives.
What baggage are you trying to run with today? Will you trust God to take care of your baggage so that you can run unencumbered? Will you remember to pace yourself and spend time daily with your running partner as you gain strength for the race that lies ahead?
The Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.covingtonfirst.org.