This past Saturday, I ran a 10K, my first race in about 13 years. It was a trail run, extremely hilly by most standards, but after 11 weeks of training, man, it felt good to finally be standing a the starting line.
I ran with a friend who had been training too and, although we didn’t stick together during the race, there was solace knowing there was someone else suffering the course with me. So here’s the deal, I finished in 1:11-an ok time for a novice. That hour felt like 20 minutes, it went by that quickly. The experts stood at the finish line, watching people push over the line, chatting about where they were running next, eating the complementary bananas. And, as soon as I crossed and had a chance to catch my breath, I thought to myself, “Wait--that was it?” My friend and I stuck around, examining the shirts, stickers and other people’s results, I think in an effort to make the event last longer in our minds, so much build up, so much planning, then an hour and a half later, it was over.
As the crowd cleared, we headed back to the car, slapped each other on the back a couple of times and once in we started talking about the next race too. That was one thing that she and I both talked about a lot: the preparation--but now it was time to move on.
The race isn’t the point; really, it’s how we run it.
I think that’s what our study in Hebrews has been so much about: here is a group of Jewish converts, yes, excited about Jesus, the gospel message, but teetering on the cusp of persecution. The author of Hebrews knew this, repeatedly urging them to move on to maturity in Christ. In Hebrews 2:1, the author warns us to pay careful attention, “so that we do not drift away”. And in 5:11-14 he talks about the how important it is for the believer to begin to progress beyond the “milk” of the word and move on to solid food, the food of the mature, those “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” No one ever said that the Christian walk was going to be easy, but it is made approachable by focus, pushing forward, looking to the higher calling. And that’s what we do, when we face a trial, the agonizing hills, we can start to look ahead, and finally, in the warmth of our car, our home, in the presence of our fellow believers, we can begin to prepare for the next challenge.