Keys to the Kingdom
By Carolyn Tucker
In 50 years of driving, only one vehicle proved to be a disappointment. She looked good on the outside, but the problem was under the hood. In my opinion, this vehicle should never have rolled off the assembly line! The car was just fine sitting in the garage doing nothing. But when the rubber met the road, she had no power for passing gear. She couldn’t run a quarter mile much faster than a tortoise because the body was too heavy for the itty-bitty engine, making her performance annoying and unsafe.
Christ followers are in a race, not a competition of comparison against one another, to cross the finish line just inside the pearly gates. There are no tricks or shortcuts in this race, but there is a participant’s handbook known as the Holy Bible. The writer of Hebrews states, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1,2 NLT). We should be encouraged to know that Jesus has done everything necessary to ensure that we can cross the finish line by grace if we persevere in faith.
Do we realize that the Old Testament saints have passed their batons to us and they’re sitting in the grandstands cheering us on? My brother, who finished his race over a year ago, has a track record that was never broken at the Stockton High School. The only casual race I ran and won was in PE when the coach told us to run to the first boat dock and back. I remember seeing the finish line and giving it all I had. It was just enough to break Patsy’s record by only a few seconds. Physical and spiritual races are run with enduring perseverance without any weights to hold us back.
In World War II, Doolittle’s Raiders had to strip those heavy B-25s down to the bare necessities in order to get them off the carrier. They did something that had never been done before, and it worked. The pilots and crew members understood that their lives were at stake if they didn’t remove the weight that would actually kill them. We don’t want our lives to be too cluttered and clunky in order to move forward in a satisfactory manner. We need clean hands and a pure heart to run this race — in fact, we’ll be disqualified without them. “Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies…will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their Savior” (Psalm 24:4,5 NLT). The blood of Jesus, pure motives, right actions, exclusive dedication to God, and inner integrity are qualifiers to enter the race.
Only you and God know what specific junk could be weighing you down, holding you back, and cluttering your spiritual race. Be aware that believers are sometimes weighed down with trying to do too many good things which can cause us to lose our joy. We must use wisdom in order to experience the freedom to run victoriously without collapsing from exhaustion.
The Key: Strip off any weights dragging you down and finish the faith race you started.