If faith is a marathon, the preacher of Hebrews declares that it's not one that we run alone; it's a relay marathon in which we carry a baton passed to us from our forebears, including these heroes and heroines from Israel's history. God has placed you on the same team with them! In fact, this passage even says mysteriously that those who went before are not "made perfect" apart from us. Together we make up a single team—and the leader of that team is Jesus who has already modeled the race for us.
Looking back on your own leg of the race, which teammates who ran before have been most important in spurring you on? Extend the line through the history of the church and into your own personal history. Take a moment now to remember and give thanks for those who passed the baton to you and said, "It's your time to run now. Keep your eye on the prize!"
Lord Jesus, you are the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Thank you for the examples of faithfulness you have given through the years, and help us to trust that we can finish this race and receive our reward because you have already gone before. Amen.
Hebrews 11:29-12:2 (NRSV)
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.
31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
32 And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—
33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,
34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.
36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented—
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
39 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised,
40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.