My husband Ben and I both have political science and law degrees, so to say we pay a lot of attention to politics and campaigns is an understatement. Especially in a presidential election season, we consume a great deal of political coverage. Recently, I saw an interview with Jon Ossoff, who is running for the Senate from Georgia. The interviewer asked him about the long lines that Georgians faced in early voting. Ossoff said, “the people are undeterred by the obstacles put in their path to vote.” His comment struck a chord with me but not necessarily because of the political implications.
A person is undeterred if they are “persevering with something despite setbacks” (lexico.com). I began to think about situations when I’ve been undeterred. When have I thought nothing is going to stop me? More specifically, do I act that way in any aspect of my spiritual life? In a familiar passage, the Bible says, “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.” Hebrews 12:1-2. Foot races and political races are short term (at least relatively) and have fixed endings – someone wins the race and the rest stop running. But running with perseverance the “race marked out for us” in spiritual terms is long term and has no definite end in sight.
So many things can hinder and entangle us in running our race for Christ. We can question our purpose and direction. We can take our eyes off of Jesus and end up off the route and in the weeds. We may slow down due to blisters or fall and injure ourselves. But the most likely reason that we don’t overcome obstacles in our race is that we grow weary. We may become burned out at times throughout our run. Different seasons of life require various amounts of energy that we must allocate to our families, churches, and communities. Sometimes, we simply feel exhausted.
If we try to run the race alone, then we likely will feel tired and worn out. Perhaps we could view the race as more of a relay instead of an individual effort. When we find ourselves running out of emotional and physical bandwidth, we can hand the baton to someone who is willing to help us for a time. After we rest and restore our minds and bodies, we can join back in the race and even lend a hand to someone else who needs a lift. We can persist when we help others run the races set before them, and they can help us in turn.
We cannot let the obstacles in our paths stop us. In order to persevere, we must help each other fix our eyes on Jesus, throw off what hinders us, and run the races set out for us. Ultimately, we can be undeterred people of God.