When getting ready to run a 5k last fall, I saw a man wearing a weighted vest at the start line. I’m assuming he wore it for the entire race, but I can’t say for sure as my view from the back of the pack did not include keeping track of this particular individual.

Supposedly, running with weights can improve running time and increase endurance. Wearing weights while running should also burn more calories without having to increase distance or speed. For those of us who already struggle to complete a run of 5k (3.1 miles) or more, the idea of running with added weight seems, well, simply crazy.

In fact, in all of the races I have run during my 25 years of being a runner, this is the first person I’ve noticed wearing extra weights during a race. Most of the runners, especially the really good runners, the ones who run to compete, run with very little on their body. In fact, the front-runner almost always has the bare minimum allowable based on the weather.

1-25-13 run

As I stood waiting to run this 5k last fall and watching this weighted man who seemed quite eager to begin, I couldn’t help but think of Hebrews 12:1-2.

“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.”

In our physical lives, the idea of running with added weight seems foolish to most people. In our spiritual lives, however, most of us carry extra weight that prevents us from running the best race possible even though doing so is not only foolish but can prevent us from a strong finish.

In Kick Off the High Heals, Day Two of Week 10 in God is My Refuge, Kathy Howard expresses this issue by saying:

“Like the heroes of faith who have gone before, let us rid our lives of anything that keeps us from complete obedience to Christ. Maybe a sinful habit or unhealthy relationship prevents us from fully submitting to our Savior. Perhaps pride or selfishness keeps us hanging on to our own will and way.”

The weights I commonly carry as I run “the race marked out” for me include comparisons, fear and pride. And really, those weights show my failure (sin) to believe that Jesus is enough. It’s my failure to believe that He created me for a specific purpose, and that He will make that purpose come to fruition. It’s fear over my kids not following God instead of my having faith to believe God for their security. And it’s my pride that keeps me from asking for help and from admitting my dependence on Him.

But that’s just me. Perhaps the weights that entangle you are quite different from mine.

Looking further into this scripture, Hebrews 12:2 tells us where to focus after we’ve cast off those weights that trip us up, a focus that allows us to endure the race of our lives.

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.”

What does a focus on Jesus do for our ability to run with endurance? Kathy Howard puts it this way:

“Let’s turn our full attention to Christ and consider what He endured for us. His example will help us throw off any sin that entangles us and run freely toward the finish line.”

Just like any runner wanting to improve her speed or endurance or any other aspect of her running will look to the experts who have successfully gone before her, so too must we look to Jesus as we seek to improve how we run this race of life.

DISCUSSION: What sinful attitudes or selfish motivations or activities hold us back from following Christ in complete obedience?

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