At the beginning of a new year, so many of us often set lofty goals that we want to pursue. Some common ones are: lose weight, exercise more, read a certain number of books, get out of debt, eat healthier, travel more, learn a new skill or hobby, or drink more water.
All those goals or resolutions are quite admirable, and many can be achieved and maintained if one sets their mind to work hard and stay committed and focused to keep chasing after the lifestyle shift and goal ahead of them. Unfortunately, after the excitement of the fresh new year wains, many people get discouraged and distracted and soon enough, they quickly throw in the towel and stop running towards their goal. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions actually stayed committed to the endeavor of pursuing to completion their resolution or change of lifestyle.That means over half of the people who set a goal for the new year will fail! The study also involved people who did not make a New Year’s resolution but set out to achieve a simple goal- only 4% of those people were successful at achieving their goals. The question that needs to be raised is: what got in the way of the pursuit?
Considering our Christian journey is far more important than mere earthly plans, I cannot help but apply this situation to spiritual pursuits, our spiritual race. How often do we set our hearts at running the race set before us-towards pursuing more of Christ and the knowledge of Him- and become distracted, discouraged, and entangled in worldly temptations that pull us away from Him? I know for me, the distractions around me sometimes feel inescapable and overwhelming. But we have inspiration…we have a model to look to- Christ!
In chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews we see an encouragement regarding our Christian race that we need to fix our gaze upon Christ because He is our example:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” .(Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)
Jesus is not only our example on this Christian pilgrimage, but He is also the One who endows us with the power and grace to keep running our race and to finish well. We are able to keep pressing forward, casting off distractions, discouragements, and disappointment because He is the One who is faithful to complete the work that He began in us. This doesn’t mean that we are free of responsibility on our race. We often determine the pace in which we are running. What has slowed you down on your Christian journey? Are you looking backwards? Have you been caught in the trap of sin that has stolen your zeal for Jesus? These are all questions we need to ask ourselves. Hebrews 12:1-2 commands us to lay aside every weight and snare and to fix our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He loved us so much that He endured the cross to purchase our freedom from sin. That should be enough motivation for us to keep running after Him and glorify Him with our life. Worldly temptations, distractions, and discouragements will inevitably come, but we do not have to be ensnared by them and give up on pursuing God. Let us make a commitment this new year to lay it all aside to run after the Lord and the things of His Kingdom like never before.
I have such a desire to pursue You and grow in the knowledge of You, but I feel surrounded by so many distractions and temptations that keep me from being faithful on my Christian journey. I repent for allowing myself to be ensnared by sin that does not satisfy. You are the only One who can truly satisfy my soul. Help me to cast off all things that would entangle me and keep me from running the race set before me with fervor. Please give me wisdom on how I can limit my distractions and set boundaries in my life so that I can prioritize spiritual things. I find my hope in You and trust Your joy will keep my heart from growing discouraged. I fix my gaze upon You, Jesus. Thank You for Your faithfulness, for Your nearness, and for Your Holy Spirit that empowers me to say no to distraction and stay focused on Kingdom matters. In Jesus’ name, amen.