"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith: who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross..." (Hebrews 12:1-2)
According to passages in Romans eight and Galatians five, the Christian life is a walk. Yet, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to run, insisting it's a race, not a leisurely stroll. Well, when you and I are walking at the upper limits of our pace, as fast as we can, we say we are "power walking." And, indeed, that is exactly what Paul instructs us to do in Galatians five: walk in the power of the Spirit of God. Power walking, if you will!
It is usually assumed that the "great cloud of witnesses" referred to in the cited verse in Hebrews is made up of the men and women of faith mentioned in chapter eleven, which seems reasonable enough. But if they are watching, it is safe to say, all of Heaven is, too. And it would be just as safe to say that they are not watching in a judgmental capacity, for there is only one Judge. Rather, I see them as a huge cheering section; who, having finished their own race, are now leaning over the battlements of Glory, calling out such encouragement as, "Go on!" or "Get up!" or "Keep going; don't give up!" or, in my case, "Oh yes, you can!"
In this race—the race of life— it is obvious that any weight that would slow one down should be laid aside; and the truly serious runner will always heed the admonition. In addition, we are not running against anyone else, so we need not gauge our speed against his or hers. It is an individual course "set before us" personally, laid out by God Himself. It must be run "with patience," because it's not a 50-yard dash; it's a cross-country run from this country to a heavenly one.
Best of all, our goal is really not a place, but a Person: Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith." He was there at the start of our race, and He will be there at the finish. Remember when we used to race as children, and someone would stand at the end with both hands outstretched to the side? When you touched one of his or her hands, you knew you had finished the race. Well, I will know I have finished my race, when my hand touches the nail-scarred hand of the One who "endured the cross" for me."
Till then, by the grace of God, I run!