March 30, 2020
by Sheri Schofield
Dogsled racers from all over the United States have headed to the snowy, ice-packed mountain slopes here in Montana. When they all come together, the dogs go wild with excitement. They know it’s time to race! Many dogs jump straight up into the air, barking, eager to race. One by one, the teams approach the starting point. Only the voice of their own master counts to the dogs, for each team begins separately down the icy trail. Finally, their master shouts, “Hike!” They’re off on the 350-mile Race to the Sky, a pre-qualifying race for the famous Iditarod in Alaska. The crowd cheers and waves.
Temperatures hovering around zero degrees – or lower... camps set up in the snow... running until they are exhausted... Yes. But the dogs are full of excitement! They have been training for this race for months. They have learned endurance.
The Apostle Paul compares the Christian life to a race. "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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he 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 sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV).
What is the “everything that hinders” that we are supposed to throw off? It's a very personal thing. I recently identified something that needed to go for me: my local newspaper! The political gossip was pulling me down and distracting me way too much, pulling my thoughts in a direction that was not profitable for my ministry. Though I would miss the cartoons, I canceled my subscription, so that I could focus on my writing and teaching, for I am training a group of young leaders at church who need my attention.
I haven’t seen a newspaper in weeks now, and guess what? My focus has improved! My writing and teaching are better. My stride in the Christian race upward is stronger. I have thrown off the weight that was holding me back.
That was an easy fix. But not all solutions are so easy. What happens when the weight is a relationship? A person? More thought must go into that, for we have to ask, “Has God put this person into my life as part of my training or my endurance development? Did God assign this person to my team? Am I supposed to make adjustments in order to work better with him? Or is this person simply draining the life out of me and holding me back from serving God?”
It is not easy to know that answer! Relationships are complicated. Only God can tell us what to do, and our own bias can influence our spiritual hearing. Somehow, we need to find both truth and love in our answer. Even when we do, others might not agree with our decision. That’s why it is so important to keep our eyes on Jesus, our ears tuned to his voice, our own will surrendered to His will . . . no matter what the cost. When the Master calls “Hike”, we must throw off the weight and hit the trail. There’s a race to win!
But this one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:13,14, NIV
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About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!
Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.
Join the Conversation: What is God prompting you to throw off?