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Hebrews 12:1,2 tells us to “run the race — the race that God Himself has chosen for us — with endurance, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.”
That’s a pretty easy thing to do when things are running smoothly, when life is good and all is well.
But what happens when the race that we are running suddenly takes a dramatic turn? What happens when all that we thought we needed in life suddenly disappears? What happens when the smooth, easy days become hectic and both physically and mentally draining?
Even worse — what happens when our friends seems to be handling their lives so much better than we handle our own? Does God still expect us to endure our race — and endure well?
For that particular answer, we turn to John 21. The Risen Christ had just appeared to His disciples at the Sea of Galilee. After breakfast, His attention turned to Peter. Jesus told him that one day people would bind his hands and feet and take him somewhere he did not want to go — to the cross. Peter would die from crucifixion.
If I were Peter, I would be at least a little freaked out. I’m sure he didn’t want to die, especially not in that manner. He knew what crucifixion was. He’d probably seen it hundreds, if not thousands, of times. He knew the horror and the agony involved. And yet, this is the path that Christ said Peter would travel (and he did, by the way).
So, maybe to comfort himself, Peter began to look around at the other disciples. What would they endure? Where would their paths lead them? Would John, the disciple that “Jesus loved,” have to endure the cross as well?
At this point, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus’ answer takes us to the passage we read at the beginning. You know, the one about enduring the race?
Jesus said to Peter, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
In other words, it didn’t matter what race John would have to run. It didn’t matter whether the path God chose for another was a bed of roses or a cruel, rugged cross. What mattered was that Peter was to follow Jesus — to endure the race that was set before him.
Why? Verse 19 gives us the answer: “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.” Peter’s crucifixion would glorify God. Peter’s race, though dangerous and horrific, would in some way give glory to God the Father.
The same is true for us today. We can’t look at another person’s “race” and compare ours to theirs. Their race may glorify God in an easier way. Their race may seem a little less rocky and a little more comfortable in our eyes. However, Jesus has said not to become distracted with another person, but to follow Him — to keep our eyes fixed on Him. For if we endure our race, no matter how steep the mountains get or how hard we scrape our knees climbing to the top, Jesus has promised that we will glorify God in it.
And that’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it?
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You don’t always reveal to us the race that we have to run, yet You promise that You will never leave us on our journey. Thank You that we can glorify You with our lives and maybe in some way, give back just a little of the glory that You deserve. I praise You, Father.
Steve and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 and email@example.com.