Three men hiking came upon a raging river. They needed to get to the other side, but had no idea of how. The first man prayed, "Please God, give me the strength to cross this river. Suddenly, God gave him big arms and muscular legs, and he was able to swim across in three hours.
Seeing this, the second man prayed, "Dear Lord, give me the strength and ability to cross." God gave him new muscles and a rowboat. He was able to row across in two hours.
The third man having witnessed the results for the others also prayed, "Please give me the strength, ability, and intelligence to cross this river quickly." Suddenly, God turned him into a woman who consulted her map and walked quickly across a nearby bridge. (Sorry, guys.)
It helps to have directions – and to follow them. Sometimes the course is not as complicated as we might make it.
The same is true of running the race of life; it helps greatly to have a clearly marked path to follow. The good news is: God has provided that for us, and it’s not complicated. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” the Hebrew writer urges (Hebrews 12:1). Notice that the course is “marked out for us.”
To “worship God acceptably” (12:28) is to simply follow the steps marked out in the verses that follow. These include:
1. “Keep on loving each other as brothers,” (13:1);
2. Show hospitality (13:2-3);
3. After you say “I do” at your wedding, then do for the rest of your life (13:4);
4. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,” (13:5);
5. Follow your leaders (13:7,17);
6. Stick with what is true and important (13:9-10);
7. “Continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise,” (13:15)
8. “Do good and to share with others,” (13:16);
9. Pray (13:18-19); and
10. Listen to teaching (13:22).
It seems fairly simple to follow Jesus when you look at it this way, doesn’t it? Those are simple course markers that are easy to understand. Granted, they may not always be easy to practice, but they are not difficult to see.
All it takes to win this race and claim the prize is to stay on the course until the end. Let’s run the race. Let’s follow the course Jesus marked for us.