H. L. Sheppard
We sometimes concentrate too much attention and expend too much energy focusing on the obstacle...instead of the goal.
A skilled driver's education instructor will teach a student to keep his eye focused several hundred feet in front of the vehicle. By doing this, he is not only aware of what lies ahead, but his peripheral vision will pick up any object near the vehicle also. An added benefit of looking several hundred feet ahead, is that the driver automatically adjusts his steering to stay within the lines drawn on the highway, even though he is not even conscious of the fact that this is what he is doing. Focusing far down the road ahead prevents the vehicle from drifting too far to one side and causing an accident. Simply put, looking at the road ahead is safer than concentrating on what is immediately in front of the vehicle.
The writer of Hebrews instructs us to look to Jesus Christ as an example of traversing a road that is strewn with obstacles:
Heb 12:2 “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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Notice what the writer said regarding "the cross" and "the joy":
".Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross...”
In our vernacular he is saying: "Jesus looked beyond the obstacle of the cross, and focused his attention on the joy beyond the cross".
Jesus Christ was an "Over-comer". He knew that the way to succeed in His mission on Earth was to focus on the goal, not the perilous path that would get him there. In verse one we are admonished to "...run with patience the race...". We are not in a sprint (a one-hundred yard dash). We are in a marathon that is sprinkled with hurdles that we must leap over. Jesus saw the cross as an obstacle he had to "overcome" in order to obtain the "joy" that was on the other side of the cross.
The word "Overcome" is used thirteen times in twelve verses in the New Testament. In ten of those verses, "Overcome" means: "Conquer" or "Come Over". That is: when we as God's People face obstacles on the road to Heaven, we have a divine imperative to "Overcome" or "Conquer" or "Come/Climb-Over" those obstacles. The Cross was an obstacle on the road Jesus walked, but He focused on the "Joy" that was on the other side of the cross. He kept his eyes looking far down the road. He never lost sight of the goal....saving the lost.
Near the conclusion of each of Christ's addresses to the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 2, 3), he pronounced a conditional blessing upon them. He told them they must "overcome" the difficult obstacles that were in their way. There is no pronouncement of blessing upon those who "do not" overcome. There is only blessing and promise given to those that "do overcome".
Human beings, by virtue of their innate sinful nature, are prone to error. However, the Scripture teaches:
Prov 24:16 "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again..."
Falling is not the same as failure, unless you refuse to get up! Even the righteous make mistakes and sometimes fall when trying to climb over an obstacle. Moses struck the rock instead of waving his staff over it. Abraham attempted to conceive the promised seed with his handmaid after Sarai, his wife, had not conceived for several years. Peter denied the Lord just hours before Christ's crucifixion. But, each of these righteous men refused to stay down when an obstacle caused them to fall. They might have fallen, but they were not failures because they got right back up!
You are not a failure unless you decide stay down after stumbling over an obstacle. Overcomers get back up, brush themselves off and continue walking by faith. There is more potential in you than you might realize. Get up and keep moving forward for Jesus. If Moses, Abraham and Peter could fall on their face, climb back to their feet and have their names recorded in the Bible among the greatest of God's men....So can you! Just look on down the road beyond the obstacle and focus your attention on the joy. SEE THE POSSIBILITIES!