TIME. Spring 2019 | Page 31

The Race Jeremy Wang “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 (ESV) It’s been a weeklong sort of day, but I’m glad to end it with you all. There’s a special kind of joy in coming back from the world with all its temptations and relaxing in God’s peace with His children. What should we do together? Sing some songs? Play a game or two? A story, you say? Alright, you’ll have a story, brothers and sisters. Hm. I think I’ll tell you a story from Hebrews 12. In many ways, it reminds me of my own testimony, but perhaps that’s because it is, in a way, the testimony of all Christians around the world. Before we begin, imagine for a moment the walk of Christian faith through life to be a race, stark and lonely. Hold that image in your mind. It is neither perfect nor complete, of course, but then what story is? The Race Light fades around the corner. Trees drenched in shadow, path faded in darkness, whispers drowned in wind. Yet again he has fallen short. He had been so close this time, bringing that precious, murmuring light within arm’s reach. But, as always, he collapses, a broken heap in the mud and grime. There’s something inevitable about this place, dragged away from the light and mired in hungry filth. No matter how much he pours into the race, no matter how hard he pushes himself, the oozing ground always seizes him in the end. This time had been different; he had been so sure that this attempt would finally bring an end to it all. He had done ev- erything right: stripped himself of all his clothes, tossed out all his supplies, made himself as light as he possibly could. When he had started to run again, he had felt light as a feather. No, lighter than a feather; he had felt like the wind itself. Surely the light could not keep ahead of him this time. This elation had faded faster than light on a winter day. And when it was gone, the race was as difficult, as mind-numbingly predictable as before. He had run endlessly through the forest, chasing that ever-elusive light. Anyway, the task before him now is to free himself from this mess. The sticky muck clings so tightly he can hardly lift his limbs. First the left leg. Then the right. Left arm, right-and everything falls apart. But before we continue, before you become overly invested in the man’s current struggle, let’s first see how he came to be here. A rustle ran through the great cloud of witnesses. Here, Abra- ham nudged Sarah and pointed. There, Rahab rested her head on her hands, watching intently. And in the front seats, Joseph chuckled at a light-hearted joke from his father. The prophets gathered and whispered, for their Lord had wel- comed a new runner into the race. To the onlookers, the race was as a beloved friend. They had seen men and women run through countless times, and they had seen still more fall short. But as much as they might long for every runner to endure, theirs was not the power to direct- ly interfere. Their role was simply their presence, the aware- ness of which pushed many a runner to take an extra step, last an extra mile. To the participants themselves, the race was an enigma. Not one of them knew how he or she came to be running the race, but they all knew the light they were chasing to be in- 31