He came in with a ridiculous outfit. He already stood out in that crowd, being a full head and shoulders above the rest and a voice that resonated rich and deep. A hat, coat and scarf, gumboots, and bag only set him apart more.
He told the crowd he was ready to run a race. And of course they laughed as he pantomimed the running – clumsy and difficult to do in such garb.
Take them off! Take them off!
And so he did, one by one. Laziness. Guilt. The sin of deceit and gossip. The sin of idolatry. The world’s pull. He would talk about each as he pulled off a boot here, a hat there. And at last, he would stand in his shorts and shirt, tennis shoes tied, ready to run.
It was a magnificent illustration.
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. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2
It’s interesting to me that the Hebrews writer makes a distinction between the things that keep us from running our race effectively. We probably could have guessed that sin would hinder us. But we are also urged to “lay aside every weight.” What might that include? There may be many things that, though not “sin,” keep us from running – things that weigh us down, things that are too heavy to carry while we run. Things that are less important – that do not carry the weight of eternity with them.
Are you weary of running this race? Does your load feel heavy? Are you dragging your sin along with you?
Lay it aside. And don’t pick it up back up again. Pluck out the sin. But also lay aside the distraction of lesser things. That’s the secret to endurance. Let go of what doesn’t matter in order to reach that which does.
We look as silly as my Grandpa did, oh so many years ago, trying to “run” in his gumboots and jacket. It’s impossible to run with endurance when we are trying to carry what isn’t necessary. But if we lay it aside, if we cast it off, we will find ourselves able to run, fleet footed and secure (Psalm 18:33).
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
~ Isaiah 40:30-31