Marathon in a 20-Pound Weight Vest
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 . . . Hebrews 12:1-2
Back in 2018, my son asked me to run a marathon with him. So, we signed up for a race and proceeded to train. We ate well. We both shed some extra pounds. And we just jogged for hours. When the big day came, we didn’t set any records, but we finished. We’d worked hard, making significant sacrifices, and were eventually rewarded with the joy of achieving our goal. It’s a fantastic memory, which I look back on as one of my great experiences in life.
On that day, I witnessed thousands of others working towards the same goal. Do you know what I didn’t see? I didn’t see anyone trying to make it harder. I didn’t see anyone running in a 20-pound weight vest. I’m sure there are those who’re fit enough to do so, but if I’d have added 20 pounds, I wouldn’t have finished. I don’t have to imagine this. Years prior, while struggling with my addiction, I signed up for another marathon. In my drug use though, I wasn’t motivated to eat well or train well. When the day came, I was dreadfully out of shape and 20 pounds overweight. It was a miserable experience and I ended up walking off the course about halfway through.
When I think about the marathon in a 20-pound weight vest, I think, No one is dumb enough to do that. But I was. No, I didn’t literally put on a weight vest for the race, but still, I showed up heavy and I suffered the consequences.
Today’s passage uses a similar metaphor. In it, the author of Hebrews instructed us to put off the sin that drags us down so that we may run the race of life, while keeping our eyes on Christ. We’re all participants in this race. We’re all headed somewhere. If we want our life to go where it was meant to go, then we must keep our eyes on Christ and shed those things that prevent us from being who we’re made to be. For some of us, this is a drug addiction. For others, it’s lust, gluttony, pride, anger, selfishness, or greed. No one purposefully makes the race harder than it needs to be, but we all have those things that drag us down. If we want to run, and run well, then daily, we must look to God, asking him what needs to go. Then we must daily do whatever it takes to abandon those things. No sane person runs a marathon in a 20-pound weight vest.