“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,” (CSB – Read the chapter)
By the time this post goes live it will probably be the week of the Super Bowl. I’ll either be really excited, or completely disinterested. The reason for that is that my team, the Kansas City Chiefs, are playing tomorrow in the conference championship game against the New England Patriots. What’s more, for the first time ever, they will play this game at home. Although it’s hard to quantify, everyone knows that playing at home gives the home team an advantage over the visitors. Writing this, I’m hopeful we don’t waste it.
For the Chiefs, home field advantage in the playoffs hasn’t always played out so well. As a matter of fact, they’ve played ten home playoff games in their history and won exactly two of them. Tomorrow will make number eleven.
Still, home field advantage isn’t nothing. For the Chiefs’ opponent, it will mean playing in the loudest football stadium in the world with a Guinness World Record to prove it. More than just noise, though, the home team has all of that noise made in their favor. And there’s just something about having people cheer for us that seems to give us the ability to reach a little deeper and perform a little better than we would otherwise.
Another of my favorite sports teams, the Kansas Jayhawks (just for basketball…they don’t have much of a football program to speak of these days, although we’ll see what Les Miles can do about that next season) have one of the best home field advantages in the league. There’s a sign hanging in the rafters that reads, “Pay heed all who enter: Beware of the Phog.” The “Phog” being the presence of former coaching great Phog Allen for whom the building is named. And indeed, in the last 18 years, they only have 13 home losses. They have fewer home losses than they do consecutive conference championships. Even when it looks like they’re going to lose, you can’t count them out until the game’s over.
This kind of energizing home cheering section is a little like what the author of Hebrews is talking about here. As followers of Jesus, we are part of a tradition of faithfulness with a huge cheering section of folks who have a vested interest in seeing us succeed in our journey. We are continuing down a path they helped to blaze.
What he’s saying is that we should feel this home field advantage as we pursue the path of Christ. When we’re feeling discouraged because we’ve lost some yardage or have made a couple of boneheaded plays, let us feel their encouragement, dig down deep, and press on with endurance.
That’s what the journey after Jesus is. It’s not a sprint. It’s an endurance race. It’s a race that winds far and long. It has ups and downs. It has twists and turns. Sometimes we rush forward, and sometimes we fall back. But, no matter what the journey brings, we keep pressing forward because that’s where the goal is. And as we go, we have all the support we need from not only our fully invested heavenly Father, but from the faithful journeyers who came before us.
When you’re tired, press on. When you’re discouraged, keep going. When you feel like you’ve given everything you have and are running on fumes, strive forward because life lies ahead of you. The crowd is in your favor.