When he was in the fourth-grade, our son chose as his “Ohio project” to report on the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Thank you, Matthew, for leaving Ohio’s canal systems, salt mines and burial mounds in the capable hands of your classmates.) Located in North Canton, the HOF was just a two-hour drive away, which, of course, meant, “road trip!” There we saw bust after bust of pro football’s greats—from Jim Brown to Dick Butkus—and the array of memorabilia, including Jim Thorpe’s Canton Bulldogs uniform, was mesmerizing for two admiring pilgrims. For these real-life relics recalled an excellence displayed on the field week after week, year after year.
Yet I couldn’t help but to think about the true excellence we did not see. Sprints run, weights lifted, and drills executed until exhaustion, only to rest for a moment and then do some more. Tireless resolve driving bone-weary bodies, hour after hour, day after day. The Hall welcomed us fans who came to visit, but it paid homage only to those content with nothing less than induction.
Hebrews 11 is a stroll through a different showcase of legends. Here we pause before the busts of believers—Noah, Abraham and Moses. We honor Gideon, Rahab, David and other everyday folks who persevered through the obstacles they could see, trusting in the God they could not see. Through faith some escaped the sword, and others, through faith, endured it. In trust some administered justice; in trust, some suffered injustice. All of these have finished life’s race and yet remain, urging us on from this Biblical Hall of Faith.
This particular Hall, however, is no place for mere visitors: we are all called to persevere as people of faith and to be content with nothing less. “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,” writes the author of Hebrews, “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.”1 And so we do. Like Paul, we “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.”2 For our own time comes soon enough, and the Hall awaits.
Father, though doubts come and go, I do trust you, for you have shown yourself to be faithful. Show me the Kingdom work you have prepared for me to do today, and strengthen me with your power to do it in faith. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Christ in me is hope.
1 Hebrews 12:1
2 Philippians 3:14
Read today’s Scripture in Hebrews 12:1-3.