I always love when a verse I have known for ages, takes on a deeper significance. When the words in my head actually translate to meaning in my life.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
It wasn't the whole verse that was floating around in my head. It was just one line at first: "the founder and perfecter of our faith." It popped right in my thoughts, and would have flown right out again had I not been wanting something to ponder while on my walk. So I snatched it out of the wind and asked, "what does that mean?"
What does it mean for God to be not only the founder/author, but also the perfecter/finisher of our faith? It means that He not only gives us the faith we need to seek Him originally, but also the faith needed to run this race more and more effectively as He works on our hearts. As we lay aside these sins and burdens that keep us from living like Christ, God is faithful to perfect us to run better.
Meaning... all the hard days where I feel beat up on, or like I'm soft limestone in a rock tumbler with sharp volcanic lava, are worth it. Those days God is faithful to perfect my faith. He helps the sin of pride cling a little less. He lays aside some of the things I carry in my self-righteousness. He removes my focus from myself and puts it on His foundation.
It also means that God is even more faithful in all the times where I feel raw for having been rubbed so much by others. When He strips away the layers I have on for comfort from the elements, I feel naked at first. But that is looking at it all wrong. I am actually un-entangled. My legs and feet are free to pound down the road towards Jesus. My arms are free to swing unencumbered by my burdens of sin and self-focus. My head is free to swing upward and revel in the sunlight. I am weightless.
This is huge. This is truly running. This is faith... God working on my belief so that I can be an endurance runner. God stripping me of my "comforts" is not easy or even painless. But it is beautiful!
These past months have been hard for me in the sense that I have felt like I had every right to be prideful. I was justified in being hurt and having my fists up ready for a fight. But, these months have also been wonderfully freeing. This is the part of the race where I feel I am battling uphill, feeling that God is placing rocks and hurdles in my way on purpose. And He is. But those same boulders are also shaving off bits and pieces of my load that were never meant to be carried up the mountain. And I am finding out that God, in his wondrous plan, is holding me up. He isn't trying to trip me with these hurdles, my pride does that. Rather, he is picking me up as I repent and placing me up the mountain another mile or two, to where I find a stream of living water to rest at before continuing on.
This is the race set before us with God setting the pace and terrain. This is my journey of laying aside entanglements (with a lot of help) and letting God perfect my faith. He will finish my faith in the end, and that will be a glorious day!