Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
With the upcoming election, it seems everyone has an opinion about who should or should not be our next president. I have one as well, but no worries, I do not plan on sharing it here. I will, however, share what God wrote on my heart as I was praying for our country and for our future leaders the other day. God reminded me again I am to fear not. I am to fear not because who the next president is going to be is no surprise to God. How we got where we are is no surprise to God. What our future will be is no surprise to God. Because of God, we are to fear not the enemy, fear not the past, fear not the present, and fear not the future; really, we should fear not anything nor anyone on this earth.
We are to fear God.
Yet it seems instead of revering and trusting God, we often set our sights, our hopes, and in turn our fears, on everything and on everyone else. Instead of focusing on the race set before us, we focus on the people, the world, and the distractions surrounding us. Instead of laying aside every weight and sin, we pick them up, inspect them, hold them, and are fain to keep them close at hand.
But consider the verse above. What are we supposed to do as we run with endurance the race that is set before us?
In addition to laying aside every weight and sin (an action which implies a willingness to let go), we are to run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1)
The key phrase? Looking to Jesus.
Yet what does it mean to look to Jesus? I believe the key is found in the preposition “to“. For “to” is not the same as “at.”
What’s the difference? If I look at something, I’m assessing it; if I look to something, I’m seeking it. To look at someone is to inspect that person for the purpose of passing judgment, good or bad. I look at the debates, and I shudder at the thought of who could be our next president. I look at the television and cringe at the storylines once abhorred now labeled as “kid-friendly.” I look at my children and feel the immense pressure and awesome responsibility I have as their parent. I can look at someone with love or with hatred, but I do not always know someone before I look at him and pass judgment. The Pharisees certainly didn’t know Jesus when they looked at Him and accused Him of having a demon.
To look to someone, however, is to seek that person for the purpose of obtaining help, assistance, comfort, or encouragement. To look to a friend is to seek companionship, support, and someone to do life with. To look to a mentor is to seek wisdom from someone who has already walked the path you are on. To look to your parents for advice is to genuinely desire their input and feedback. Those who looked to Jesus for healing instead of at Him in judgment were the ones who were made whole.
While to look “at” someone is typically nothing more than an impersonal assessment, to look “to” someone requires a sincere desire for a personal relationship.
With this in mind, re-read with me Hebrews 12:1: let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
Looking to Jesus
We are to run to God. He is waiting and ready and wanting us to seek Him as we run the race set before us.
Micah says it well in the Old Testament:
Put no trust in a neighbor;
have no confidence in a friend;
guard the doors of your mouth
from her who lies in your arms;
for the son treats the father with contempt,
the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.
We are to look to God–to God alone–in all circumstances. We are to wait on Him and for Him, trusting His faithfulness through it all.
But unfortunately we often look at and to the world instead of to God. We look at our neighbors, our friends, our families, and even strangers in order to assess what we have been doing or what we think we should be doing We look at our bank accounts, our government, and our possessions in order to assess our sense of security. We look at our apparent successes or failures to determine our worth and potential. We look to friends, family, and the government for the answers and solutions to our problems and struggles. We seek people and things of this world before we seek God.
But nothing of this world is God. People are not God. Possessions are not God. Power is not God. No one and nothing on this earth could ever come close to being God. The world–and all that is within it–is selfish, inconsistent, and will soon pass away. God, however, is eternal.
So what should we do as we run the race set before us? Are we to look to the world? Are we to look at our bank accounts? Are we to look at the latest poll? No. We are to look to God. We are not to look at circumstances, at people, at finances, at the future, at the past, at the present, or at anything else. We are to look to God. God alone knows everything that has, is, and will ever happen. Furthermore, He promises to take care of it all and be in control of it as well. God knows who our next president will be. God knows the fate of our freedom, our rights, and our nation. And no matter who it is sitting in the oval office come January 2017, God is on His throne. He was on it in the beginning, is on it now, and will be on it for eternity. So look to Him! Look to God alone to carry you through. He will lead you through, around, over, or under whatever circumstances may come your way. He is the Author and the Finisher of your faith. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Ancient of Days who doesn’t change. Fix your eyes on Him today. Run that racing looking to Jesus. He promises to be there with open arms. Even more, He promises to run it with you.
“To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!”