My son was fast, and he ran with a fast crowd. As a matter of fact, his entire track team was pretty fast! In the ninth grade, Steven participated in the conference track meet, running the 1600 meters. (That’s four times around the big circle.) I was so proud of him as he ran like a gazelle around the first lap, about six feet behind the first-place participant.
But at some point during the beginning of the second lap, we saw an unidentified flying object soar over Steven’s head.
“What was that?” my husband asked.
“I think it was his shoe!”
All the fans were laughing and pointing as they noticed Steven’s left running shoe fly in the air and land on the grassy field. But amazingly, Steven kept running and never missed a beat. With one shoe off and one shoe on, he continued around the track. The atmosphere of the race lit with excitement, and the focus seemed to change. It became less about who would win and more about if shoeless Steven would make it to the finish line. All curious eyes were now on one lean runner. Would he stop? Would he slow down? Would his sock stay on?
His teammates began to run around the track, cheering him on. “Come on, Steven! Don’t give up! Don’t slow down! Keep going!”
Surprisingly, at the urging of his teammates, Steven sped up. By the third lap, he had passed the first-place runner by several paces. But then, predictably, his sock started to work its way down the ankle and the toe was flopping like a loose sole of a worn old shoe. Undaunted, Steven ran on, sock flopping.
When Steven crossed the finish line in first place, the crowd erupted in applause and laughter. He had broken his personal best running time!
The Bible tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV). The NLT version calls them a “great crowd of witnesses.” The Message calls them “pioneers” and “veterans” who call us to “strip down, start running—never quit!”
That cloud of witnesses this verse speaks of is all the men and women of the faith listed in Hebrews 11. If we could hear those that have gone before us, we would hear them cheering us on. “Don’t stop Mary, Kristen, Bethany, Keisha. Keep going! Don’t quit!” That’s what they’re cheering for you today.
Not only that, but you and I can be part of the great crowd of witnesses that cheer on our brothers and sisters in Christ right here and now. All through our lives, we’ll notice friends, or “fellow runners” who have lost more than a shoe—they’ve lost their hopes, their dreams, and their will to finish the race. What can we do? We can cheer them on by offering a timely word of encouragement and running alongside them shouting, “Come on, friend! Don’t give up! Don’t slow down! Keep going! Keep you eyes on Jesus!”
Who knows, that friend may do more than simply finish the race. She may even take first place!
I’d like to cheer you on this year. The best way I know to do that is studying God’s Word together!
- LET GO of everything that holds you hostage to a “less than” life such as past mistakes and failures.
- MOVE FORWARD with the mountain-moving faith you’ve always wanted.
- LIVE BOLD in the exciting adventure of faith with confidence and courage.