Words by Katie Haldane

I like to do things well, a bit of a perfectionist at heart, I love the feeling when I have put everything I can into a situation and have done my best. But in some seasons that I have faced I have found myself struggling to stay in the race let alone running the race well.
Hebrews 12 gives us some keys on how to run the race God has set before us and run it to the end.
Hebrews 12:1-3  (NIV)

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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
A quick historical study of verse 1 shows that in the 1st Century in the Olympic Games the Greeks ran naked! So in this verse the author of Hebrews is saying; like clothes, things can get entangled around you when you are running your race and you need to strip it off and run free.
So what things can make you stumble and entangle you when you are running the race? Here are four things that jumped out at me from Hebrews 12.

What was the joy that Jesus set before him in verse 2? The joy was the fact that he was going back to God having completed his mission!
Jesus knew that this temporary time of enduring the cross would bring him back to the right hand of God, in all authority and above all things. He endured the cross and focused on the fact his future was joy filled and victorious.

In your hard season you need to know that the season is temporary and this temporary time of endurance has an eternal purpose. Keep the joy of your future before you. Don’t let the circumstances dictate your vision – let your vision dictate and dominate your circumstances. Set your God given vision before you and keep it as your joy.
Don’t lose sight that you are heading into a glorious future of victory!

Of all the things the Bible could have put that Christ endured, the author of Hebrews highlighted SHAME! Why?
Shame will stop you from continuing your journey. We need to strip off shame so we can run free!

Eight years ago I faced a situation that brought me an incredible amount of shame, I had blamed myself for my nephew passing away and I had allowed that shame to make me bitter, discouraged and ultimately it took me out of ministry altogether. One morning in my prayer time God showed me that every morning for the last eight years I had put on a ‘Cloak of Shame’. My head was down and I apologized profusely even when it wasn’t my fault. It was like I was covered in shame.
Then God showed me Isaiah 61:7-10
Isaiah 61:7-10 (NIV)
Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

God is calling us to run free of shame, to take that cloak off – to lift our head up high no matter what situations we have faced or are currently facing. Don’t let shame stop you from being all you can be in God.
The thing that you are most ashamed of will become your greatest inheritance. The Cross was supposed to be a place of shame but Jesus turned it into his greatest moment of victory!

Sometimes in our race it is discouragement that entangles us. The message Bible says “Don’t feel sorry for yourselves.” (The Message 12:3)
Don’t grow weary and lose heart, discouragement will stop you from running your race.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Remember that in all things God works for our good. You need to know that in this mess God will work it out for your good.
When discouragement hits I have my moment, eat a bucket of ice-cream and then get back up. Discouragement is when you have lost your courage – so find your courage again and keep running. With God all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)

I hate going to the gym it is like paying someone to torture me. So when I wanted to get fit I discovered that the only difference at the gym between training and punishment are my thoughts on the situation.
Colossians 3:2 ESV
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Hebrews 12:7 in the Message Bible says ‘This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training’. See punishment brings condemnation, it makes you feel trapped, you don’t feel like you have any future. But training has a purpose, it is working out for your good, it is building spiritual muscles. Training has a future.
Romans 8:1 NIV
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
Do not let condemnation entangle you – this season is training you, getting you ready for your future ahead!
Be encouraged if you are enduring a hard season right now, run the race free! Keep the joy of your future before you, strip off the cloak of shame, find your courage and run free of condemnation. Jesus is with you as your coach, guide and great reward – you can do this hard season well and run free into the victorious future he has planned for you.