Today’s post was written by Zak Schmoll, a graduate from the University of Vermont with a double major in Accounting and Statistics. (For me, an English major, mathematical arcana like Accounting and Statistics inspire perplexity, fear and wonder.) On July 23, 2012 Zak undertook an epic quest: writing about one chapter of the Bible every day from start to finish. Check out his progress here!
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~ Hebrews 12:1-2
When I think about adventures, one of my favorite literary examples is Frodo Baggins, a reasonably comfortable hobbit who was thrown into the epic saga of The Lord of the Rings.
He carried the one Ring, the only thing separating the land of Middle-Earth from the evil domination of Sauron. Frodo wasn’t looking for an adventure, but one dropped in his lap out of nowhere.
I think we can see something similar in our Christian journey.
We are told that our life is a race. According to Strong’s numbers entry for this word race, there’s definitely an indication that this is not just going out for a jog. Some of the alternative words that are suggested are contest or contention. In other words, there is a definite opponent in this competition with real stakes.
We certainly have an adversary in the world just like Frodo did. We are on a mission to overcome that opposition. For Frodo, that mission involved throwing the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom to destroy it forever. For us, our mission involves running this race successfully. Implicit in both of these statements is that we both have a target. Ours is not necessarily a geographic location, but it is certainly a place where we are in a good relationship with God.
How do we go about running successfully and making it to that destination?
Jesus himself pointed out a few pretty basic guidelines in Mark 12:30-31 that should govern all of our actions. First, we need to love God, and second, we need to love other people. The more we follow these two guidelines, the closer we will be walking to God.
Of course, I should mention that having a relationship with God in the first place is the most important thing. Without that relationship, all of the works in the world and love that we try to display don’t mean a whole lot.
Running successfully also means that we overcome stumbling blocks that are put in our way. Frodo had to fight through fatigue, betrayal, stress and anxiety in order to finally make it to his destination. Similarly, our lives will never be perfect either. There will always be problems that pop up. However, we are promised that through God, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13).
Our race does not stop because of roadblocks, but they do us to rely on God.
Our lives might not quite compare to the epic quest of Frodo Baggins, but we are in the middle of a race, a race run by being in a relationship with God and living with love. We need to love God and to love other people.
That is an adventure in itself.