Summary: On your mark, get set, GO . . . We are all running. Life is a race. To run well, you must run smart.
As I mentioned last Sunday, and as you can without a doubt you can tell by looking at my physique, I have a long history of running in my past. I began running Cross Country in the 9th grade and began learning different lessons about running. My time at State my Freshmen year for the 3.1 mile trail was in the neighborhood of 25 minutes. By the time I was a Senior I ran the State race at my personal best time of 17:34.
Let’s go back to our text!
1Therefore, 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. 2Let 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. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!)
4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." 7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
And if you will allow me I would like to read a portion to you out of the KJV because I think it speaks to us even more sharply about the concept of pain.
Vs. 5 – 8
My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
III. Side Stitches & Shin Splints
I had a love hate relationship with running. I loved the time to think and the great shape that I was in. However, there were two very distinct reasons why I hated running . . . Side stitches and shin splints. Another way to say that is one word PAIN. To be an effective runner I had to push past pain. A side stitch is something I still don’t quite understand, but it was this intense pain that would start in your side and continue until you made yourself run past it and got in shape. You couldn’t breathe and every step was absolute torture. It would literally double you over. However, as bad as the side stitch was it was nothing compared to the shin splints I endured. I started having shin splints during my junior year and they became so bad that there were days that I could literally barely walk much less run. A shin splint is caused when the muscles along the front of the shin pull away from the bone and become very inflamed. Running aggravates the condition. I finally found a solution. I had to get a special shoe and before each race I would have to rub my shins down with ice until I was numb. Then I would repeat that process after the race and take anti-inflammatory medicine. It is one of the most painful things I have ever endured. During my Senior year I also severely twisted my ankle the Monday prior to a Friday Regional’s Race and had to run through it to qualify for State. How do you spell running? P…A…I…N! If you are going to run you will have pain . . . period. So Paul gives us some road rules about dealing with pain!