|Antique card from my personal collection|
S [Scripture] = "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." (Hebrews 12:1)
O [Observation] = Chapter 11, immediately preceding this, lists countless examples of heroes of faith. Their lives are a witness to us of how people of faith conduct themselves. Because of this, we need to lay aside every weight, and the sins that beset us so easily, and run our Christian race with patience. It's interesting to me to see that we need to run the race "that is set before us". To me this implies: 1) that every believer's course is a little bit different (although the rules of the race do not differ); and 2) that God has set our course before us and it is exactly the course that is necessary for our optimum usefulness to Him and others.
A [Application] = Oh, so many weights and sins to lay aside! The longer I live and the older I grow in my Christian life, the more aware I become of how far I still have to go in my spiritual growth. The course of my race has included some painful difficulties, but it has also been a life of luxuries when compared to many others. I'm thankful that God is the Designer of our course and that He has a purpose for each steep hill, each twist and turn along the way. May I continually seek to lay aside the things that would hinder me and to run my race with patience, in a way that glorifies Him.
P [Prayer] = "Lord, how I thank You that You are the Author and Finisher of my faith! You are also the Designer of my race course, and You've designed it as a marathon rather than as a sprint or a dash. You've designed my course in such a way that it has the potential to bring maximum glory to You, if I will run it unencumbered and with patient endurance. I cannot do this on my own. I need Your wisdom to recognize the weights and sins that must be laid aside, and I need Your strength to firmly carry out that action. Help me to run my race with courage and endurance, looking to You and not at the obstacles and difficulties that surround me. Help me to be a blessing and an encouragement to others along the way as I seek to run this race in a way that glorifies You. I thank and praise You for all you will do. In Jesus' name, Amen."
If you are interested in further study on this particular topic of running our race unencumbered, I highly recommend Cynthia Heald's book Becoming a Woman of Freedom. Every chapter deals with a weight we need to lay aside, and offers something positive to run with instead. It's been a great encouragement to me, and one of those books I refer back to again and again!