Our lives used to be filled with lists of where “to go”, hurried and scattered and full of our schedules and everyone else’s to do’s. Today we are just filled with “to go” dinner’s. Our rat race has slowed, our calendars are cleared, so what are we to do when there seems nowhere to go?
As a Christian, our eyes should be opened to a different race, a race that has a better ending than any order lifted or any restart of a business. A race that has a greater prize than any we could ever earn here, Jesus.
As a swimmer shaves off his/her hair and “throws off anything that hinders his or her race” (Hebrews 12:1), we are to do that as well. We each have a race marked out for us. We are to throw off the worries of this world, the entanglement of sin, the disease and sickness we are faced with and we are to run with everything we’ve got to the end. (Hebrews 12:1) I have a race and you have your own race filled with turns, trials, struggles, joy and peace, success and failures, births and death; all used to focus, develop and perfect our faith.
We often don’t open our eyes to this race until we are faced with the ending in sight. The journey can be difficult at times, but in hindsight it’s beautiful and meaningful; all spurring us on to prize at the end.
My Uncle Mike was an athlete. He was good at almost any sport, even landing in the hall of fame at GA. Tech for his former baseball days. A crowd cheering him and his team on would not be foreign to him. The difference this time is it was HIS race to run. No team, yet with the grandest stadium you can imagine, filled with those who have run this race before him and have won the prize. Hebrews 12:1(NIV) tells us,
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
I got to watch this play out this past year as my Uncle Mike was diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma brain tumor. He fought hard to fight the cancer, but he fought harder to hear from God. His spiritual journey over the last year has been nothing but a sprint to the end of his race. A sprint…a fervent quest to learn what God has wanted him to learn, to let go of any burden he has carried, to listen and teach what God says to Him and to “fix his eyes on Jesus”.
It’s been powerful, as if the heavens opened up to him after his brain surgery and spoke to him. Once you are told you have a terminal illness and your time on earth is limited, the filter you place over your eyes seems to fall off. The desires of this world, the “physical touchpoints’ as my uncle referred to them, fall like scales from your eyes. Our purpose on this earth becomes imminent and our influence becomes priority. I listened and watched as my uncle made every conversation full of purpose, relationships became his priority as He spoke of Jesus and our mission to love and to teach others about His great love with everyone that came to visit.
He was facing trials, the trial of his life, but it was not the end. Hebrews 11 and 12 tell us about the great cloud of witnesses with the faithful that have gone before him. There are so many loved ones in heaven that have witnessed his journey and his race, cheering him on and waiting for his arrival at the end of the race. Mike, ran the race well. It was difficult, as all cancer is, both for him and for his family, but as Hebrews 11 ends, God planned something better than healing on this earth, so that only together would he be made perfect. Mike gets to experience a perfect body, complete healing together with God, just as Jesus and the rest of our loved ones did.
Mike got to see Jesus tonight and his race is now complete. I wish the heavens would open and give us a glimpse of the cloud of witnesses that were cheering him on, but there are races to be run, our race – mine and yours, separate but together. This same cloud of witnesses will be cheering us on and now my uncle Mike will be one of them. He will be cheering us on to live a life like he did this past year; purposeful, intentional and urgent. He knows now his and our time on earth is limited and I’m sure if he could talk today, he would ask, “to go or Not to go” which will you choose? There is a race to be run.
After brain surgery, Mike typed this out, “love, redemption, relationship and forgiveness” – all these things are now complete. He ended his text with, “Let’s do this! Thank you Jesus” – Mike Schisler, May 6, 2020 11:11 p.m.
Matthew 25:23: His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”