Just some early morning thoughts from me to you—
“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.”
Hebrews 12: 1-3 (NLT)
Here’s the question. What do we believe the race marked out for us looks like? What do you visualize it to be?
What do you believe it is—in the long term view of your life? What do you believe it is for this season of your life? For today?
What do you visualize it to look like?
What do you suppose my son Nathan—whose birthday we celebrate today—envisions it to look like? Happy Birthday, Nathan!
The writer of Hebrews paints a picture of a race—a grueling race—which he lays out for us depicting the life we are in the midst of. A race which will be challenging and seemingly uphill a lot of the way, running hard and maybe even at times through snow storms or hurricanes, to finally get to the end, to get the top of the mountain.
And the writer says that in that race we have to persevere. To have an attitude where we fix our eyes on Christ—who has already run it. To have, in other words, an attitude believing we can do it, an attitude of possibility, a positive “I can do it” attitude toward what is set out before us.
To have an attitude which envisions running triumphantly to and through the finish line. An attitude which recognizes that we have amazing God-given ability to accomplish whatever our minds tell us we can do. An attitude which embraces the truth of American novelist Henry James’ words when he said—“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”
Our bodies have been given to us with talents, size, strength, and abilities—in so many different areas—and we need to prepare them, strengthen them and care for them as the gift God gave us. But we must also do that with our minds and the attitudes which form there.
Our minds are powerful instruments that can visualize the course for our future—both in the short and long-term. It may be as short as the next decision, and as long as the rest of our days. By fixing our eyes on, by visualizing all we can do and be—we reinforce the positive attitude, and an attitude of belief, for our lives we should have and which we were created to have.
Basketball great and NBA Hall of Fame member, Bill Russell, of Boston Celtics fame, understood the importance of positive as well as negative thinking. “The idea,” he said, “is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.” He put a bit of doubt into their minds on the court. That way, his opponent would start thinking about getting around him and the possibility of a blocked shot, rather than on simply putting the ball in the basket. He got the opponent to visualize potential failure—rather than success and victory.
Whatever we tend to think will often end up being the outcome of any given situation. Whatever we visualize will happen—often will happen. It’s the law—which I believe is reality—of “self-fulfilling prophecies.” Whatever you visualize, whatever you expect—that visualization, that expectation, whether of success or of failure, will often occur.
So take a cue from the writer of Hebrews and the Christ he writes about, and in the race you are on, visualize what you want to happen. It’s a scriptural direction from not only the writer of Hebrews but so many other passages in God’s Word. Fix your eyes on the One who ran the grueling race before you—and succeeded—and is alongside others, cheering you on.
And remember this written by the Apostle Paul about the One—the Christ— who already ran the race before us—
“God showed His love for us,
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
In other words Paul is saying—
“While we were still messed up, making mistakes, doing things God didn’t want us to do, visualizing all the wrong the things for our lives rather than victory—it remains true that Christ still came and died on the cross and rose for you and for me. Why? Because He loves us.”
Now with that, what do you suppose He wants us to believe in and visualize for the rest of our lives? Starting now.
Defeat? Or Victory? It really seems pretty clear to me.
So today, on this day when we celebrate his birth once again, that’s what I wish for my precious son to always see—victory—in the race before him.
And that’s what I wish each of you to always see in the race before you—victory. Victory in and through the Christ who has already run the race and watches, cheering you on, and leads my son, Nathan, and you and me victoriously through each day and all the way into eternity with Him.
Have that attitude—that attitude of victory—as you run the race before you.
In His Name—Scott/Dad
Copyright 2015. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.