Not 100% sure who wrote The book of Hebrews - I doubt anyone knows for sure but it is jammed full of great advice mainly about persevering in the faith and keep on going no matter what.
August 5th 1984 - the Los Angeles Olympics - the unforgettable Marathon finish of Gabriela Andersen-Schiess was a prime example of perseverance - here is the link to watch her and her memories on that unforgettable day
She copped a lot of criticism after she finished but to her it was THE most important time of her life - she was at the olympics and she finished the marathon - she missed the last water stop which she blames for her dehydration but she kept on going no matter the consequences - she was determined - she was tenacious - she was resolute and single minded in her purpose and she finished the race.
Hebrew 12: 1-2 "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us, fixing our eyes in 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 at the throne of God".
Right through Hebrews, the author's chief concern is that we finish the faith race with Jesus triumphantly and we are all so equipped to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit given to each of us once we have committed our life to Jesus.
According to legend, John Chrysostom, the Bishop of Constantinople (now Istanbul) was threatened by the rulers to be banished if he did not renounce Jesus Christ.
He replied "you can't banish me - my Father's kingdom is the whole world. You can't take away my family - because I am with my father and he is with me - you can't kill me because my life is eternally promised to God the Father - so do with me what you will".
Chrysostom was prepared to finish the race - why? Because he knew where he was going - it didn't really matter what they did to him even if it meant death. He knew for certain that God was with him and who he would be with eventually regardless.
Sure it's going to hurt, and sure we will, maybe, get distressed and confused as we persevere with Christ - especially in the crazy world we are in at the moment - but God promises us far more than we can ever know.
Right through this amazing book are warnings about the risks and dangers we face in our faith race. Let's not resist these warnings thinking they will inhibit our freedoms in the world - The freedoms the world gives are great and we can have a fabulous time but they are so very transient.
God's warnings here are for a very special reason to keep us focused on Christ and what he has done for us. We can grow more and more sensitive to God's voice if we only take the time to heed His warnings and directions for our lives.
In chapter 3 of Hebrews - the writer emphasises the tragic fate of the Israelites who perished in the desert and even today serves as a warning to us in 2018 that we persevere in our faith and take seriously into consideration these warnings that can give us spiritual success or failure.
In other words we can give up or persevere - we can haul ourselves with God's amazing help into the keep-going stream or we can simply turn up our toes and give up - being all-too-hard. Which one are you going to be?
We can't just question God's way - else we run the real risk of ending up like the Israelites - lost and wandering in a wilderness of self-doubt and unbelief.
Last month in my blog I talked about trust-v-belief so it is interesting to note here that the Israelites unbelief was not a lack of belief in God, but questioning God's way and lacking trust in Him which in the long-term was their undoing.
We should keep our eyes on Jesus in the way Gabriela Andersen-Schiess focused on that finish line way back in the Olympics in 1984. Our faith has both its beginning and completion in him. Jesus is also the supreme example as one who has already completed the race.
Let's not lack trust in God - we can believe all about him but if we don't trust him our belief is like the Israelites of long ago trudging in the wilderness of self-despair. Trusting in God and what Jesus did for us that day on Calvary is really the only way we can fully persevere with whatever is going to be dished up to us in the future.
God bless you as you persevere and hang onto Jesus this week. Chin up - chest out - deep breath and move ahead with God.