With this weekend’s festivities at Homestead, Florida, the NASCAR season came to an end. A season that had begun in February at Daytona finally concluded when the checkered flag was waved to conclude the Ford Ecoboost 400. But, not only did that checkered flag signal the conclusion of the race, it brought to an end the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. It took 36 races, untold sets of tires, an eternity of pit stops, and plenty of angst and anger to settle the title, with young Brad Keselowski walking away with his first championship. At long last, a year of racing had made it to the finish line, and, for many of the teams, the season was never about winning the title. It was about survival—enduring all the way to the end. That’s the way it is with life as well. The individual events of life combine together to become what is, essentially, an endurance run. The finish line is less about victory and more about survival. This is, at least in part, what is being described in the book of Hebrews, where we read:

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 ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1)

This challenge requires us to be wise about the encumbrances that would hinder us and the temptation that would ensnare us, so that we can run effectively this race of life. So that we can endure. And, for that, what is the key? The writer continues:

…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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Christ also endured! He endured the cross so that we might be able to endure for the long run of life. As we look to Him, His strength, grace, and faithfulness are more than enough to get us to the finish line.   Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain