Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Can't Breathe?

Ever feel like you just can't breathe? That things are so overwhelming they're smothering the life out of you? That you desperately need time to stop and take a deep breath, but all you can do is gasp? You're not alone. When it comes to spiritual matters, most of us tend to run a bit short of breath. (That's what the word "spirit" means, actually: breath. You can see it in words like "inspiration" and "respiration.") Sometimes during a race runners develop a "stitch" in their sides, a stabbing pain caused by a lack of oxygen -- maybe it's even happened to you. Did you stop running or push on in spite of the pain?

Several books of the New Testament compare the Christian life to running a long-distance race. The writer of Hebrews says, "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.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. At Easter we tend to focus on Christ's victory, his crossing of the finish line, his ascension to the throne of God. But what about the race he ran on his way to that throne? How did Jesus manage to push on in spite of the pain, and what difference does it make as we run "the race marked out for us"? Here's a hint: like Mike McBride, who ran the Boston Marathon while hooked up to an oxygen tank (, we are not in this race alone!
Mike McBride (left) before the 2010 Boston Marathon

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