I don’t know about you, but when I think of things that hinder or entangle I most often thing of rope, vines, or maybe even obstacles in my path. And that can all be accurate, but it’s wise to consider the burdens that slow us down too. The writer of Hebrews talks about running our race with endurance. When we picture a runner, we see a minimalist approach; they carry nothing, wear the minimum clothing needed for decency. This strategy keeps them from wasting energy on the unnecessary. Hebrews talks about two things in this verse “every weight that slows us down” and “the sin that…trips us up.” We are hindered by our burdens and we stumble because of our sin.
Let’s imagine for a moment that those two things are garbage. We pick up and drag this trash with us wherever we go. Maybe one, maybe multiple, large, black trash bags full of the things we just will not let go. People see us passing by and instead of seeing a serious athlete all they see is someone buried beneath overflowing trash bags. Some of us have even gotten creative and borrowed a grocery store shopping cart to lug it all around; we push or pull it wherever life leads. But we are not homeless. Our trash bags do not even contain our earthly treasures. They are filled with the sin we don’t want to let go of – pride, unforgiveness, offenses, gossip, selfishness, and disobedience. The weight of it all keeps us from running an effective race. We waste so much energy hauling the trash around that we never even begin to develop the endurance we need to finish the race, or even stay on the course.
When we realize the things we hold so tightly to are simply garbage, our perspective changes. The pain we highly value is, in actuality, worthless weight. When we start to see those “treasures” as they truly are, we become disgusted. And we need to be sickened by it in order to finally throw it away. How deceived we are to value garbage. Hebrews says to “strip it off.” It’s what our Father invites us to do. At the foot of the cross He has placed a massive dumpster. It is big enough to hold every single weight and every one of our sins.
As you begin to jog away, no longer carrying the burdens, you feel lighter, but as you continue to distance yourself from the dumpster, you may notice an odor that doesn’t fade. In fact, it may be hard to breathe through the smell. The respiratory challenge now slows you down. You see, the stink stays with you because when you carry rotten garbage for a long period of time, the smell permeates your skin. It’s because of this that we can’t stop with just throwing it away. We need to also discard the garments we wear that are filthy rags. We need to bathe in His presence and clothe ourselves in the righteousness of Christ.
That is when we truly begin to run. That is when we look hopefully forward and begin to believe in the possibility of developing endurance. This feels good. This is sustainable.
Until we pick up the next weight… No matter how long we’ve been running, how far we’ve journeyed, or what standing we hold in the race we can always return to that dumpster and let go of the weight that slows us down and the sin that trips us up. The disposal site is never off course. The bin is never full. It is always available.