“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 ensnare us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
I am a long time participant of an amazing organization called Protestant Women of the Chapel or PWOC. PWOC began in the 1950’s and it has been a bedrock of Christian spiritual growth and fellowship to U.S military families around the globe. The program is supported by the chaplaincy and together local participants embrace the initial theme as workers together for Christ, making a positive difference through acts of service at each military installation. Each year a new board is appointed at local installations and a theme verse is chosen from God’s word as the vision for the year ahead. This year at the Ft. Bragg PWOC kickoff, Hebrews 12:1-2 was revealed as our theme verse for the year. I was very excited as I love the words God gave to the writer of the book of Hebrews in chapter 12:1 which says ”let us run with endurance the race set before us.” It is a favorite because it is easy for me to understand as a runner for the last 36 years. After the initial kickoff gathering, I was reminded of some key words associated with running and felt led to share them a few weeks later as a devotional at a regular PWOC gathering. Then two weeks ago at our local church our pastor finished a sermon series discussing key character traits that would either hinder us or key character traits that would make us successful. In this final message the character traits were laziness verses diligence. Thoughts began to form in my heart on how some of the scriptures from this message applied to the life of a military spouse as well as women in their busy roles as wives and mothers. I incorporated these verses into a message I had already begun to prepare including the verses from Hebrews 12. My target audience was a wonderful group of women, known as Wives of Warriors. This group known fondly as WOW, meets twice a month in my local church with a mission to grow in our faith in Christ and encourage one another in the role as military spouses. This past Saturday I shared the following message with the group. Some of the ladies were unable to attend and wanted to hear the message I had prepared so I decided to share it with my faithful readers. Our pastor shared verses from the book of Proverbs instructing us with Godly wisdom about the choice of being diligent vs lazy. I immediately thought of how important the character trait of diligence had been in my life as a military spouse. My choice to be diligent helped me to thrive not just survive in my role as an active duty spouse for over 29 years. Diligence required daily hard work in my life as the wife of a soldier, who was often gone, and as a mother of eight daughters. Now retired, I am passionate to share the lessons learned that helped me in my journey of faith in support of my soldier and our large family. So as our pastor defined the word diligence as one who rises early to a task. I thanked God for the desire and strength of my heart to choose to rise early ahead of my family to spend time with my true source of strength, peace, joy and guidance for the day ahead. I learned then and continue to choose to spend time with God first each day, reading His word and talking to Him in prayer. I know this is the most valuable time I spend each day. As I was learning this lesson of faith, there were days that time was hard to find or I just didn’t feel like it but I learned diligence begins with a heart of discipline. The discipline was in choosing to rise early and spend time with God allowing Him to transform my heart and build in me His character. His word is clear on the importance of diligence. The scriptures give us many examples of God’s people rising early to stand before Him, complete a task asked of them or just to worship Him but Jesus is the best example as He chose to rise early to seek His Heavenly Father in prayer. As we choose to seek the Lord He promises we will find Him. In that time He wants to give us vision for the future. He wants to be the one to guide our plan for each day. (Proverbs 3:5-6) As military spouses and women who accept the responsibility to care for our husbands, families and others, we need a plan. Our pastor drove home the point that laziness will impact those around us in a negative way vs choosing to be diligent. Proverbs 12:24 says the diligent will rule. As a former soldier, I know those who rule are the ones chosen to be in charge. Trusted individuals to lead and who influence those around them. God has chosen us. If diligent, the military spouse influences the heart of her military man, her family and others put in her watch and care in a positive way. Those who are diligent always make a plan. As a military spouse we can make the plan even with elements of the unknown, helping to embrace each season with purpose and vision. As a former military spouse I encourage all who have been called to the lifestyle to embrace the unexpected as a new season and to trust God with the outcome. Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages us to throw off (this is an action word, that requires work and honesty) every weight and sin that so easily ensnare us, and run (another action word)the race set before us. God is saying be diligent, run with endurance, NO quitting in the race called life. Admitting our sin, that hinders God’s plan for our life is hard. Running is hard work! I am a long distance runner and I have learned the character trait of diligence through the training required to accomplish the goal to finish a race and finish it well. God calls us to throw off our sin nature and run the race before us, but never alone. In Hebrews 12:1-2 He tells us to fix our eyes on Him. When the race of life gets hard remember He is our pace man. He runs beside us acting as our heart rate monitor. He sets the pace that we are able to continue to run with His help, not to fast so we lose heart and just give up, but not to slow as we may lag behind and get lazy. He has the perfect pace and in these verses He is our source to finish the race with courage. May we run with diligence, knowing Jesus is beside us, setting the pace and the course He wants us to follow in our lives. He intends we finish well so we demonstrate who He is to the world around us.
Take a moment and meditate on Hebrews 12:1-2. Ask God to reveal anything in your heart or life that is holding you back from the race He intends you to run. Is there a sin you are choosing to walk in? Are you choosing to be lazy instead of diligent? It is time to surrender to Your loving Heavenly Father. Allow Him to be in charge of your race of life. He has the absolute best plan.