Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

The apostle tells us to prepare for a Christian life by stripping away the things that weight down, namely sin. Sin has consequences and out of those consequences burdens are formed. We are to work on the perfection of our Christian life by learning to endure what we face in life. Our source of endurance is Jesus. It is Him we need to keep our eyes on for He is the champion of life and it is He who initiates and perfects our faith.

[Charlie Engle, Ray Zahab, and Kevin Lin know endurance better than most. For 111 days, they ran the equivalent of two marathons a day in order to cross the entire Sahara Desert on foot. They touched the waters at Senegal and then made their way through Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and Egypt to touch the waters of the Red Sea. Along the way, the trio faced blazing afternoons of over 100 degrees, jarring, freezing nights, sandstorms, tendonitis, violent sickness, and the usual aches, pains, and blisters. But the biggest challenge they faced can be summed up in one word: water. Finding it in its purest, cleanest form gets to be a bit of a chore while in the middle of nowhere!

Crossing the Saharan Desert on foot is an amazing accomplishment. But just as commendable are these marathon finishers:

� Christians who finish their lives still growing, still serving.
� Husbands and wives who stay faithful to each other "until death do us part."
� Young people who preserve their virginity until marriage, in spite of crushing peer pressure.
� Pastors who stay passionate about ministry until their last breath.
� Church members who weather the rougher patches and remain joyful, loving, and faithful.

[Jon R. Mutchler, Ferndale, Washington; source: Anna Johnson, "3 ultra-athletes run across Sahara," USA Today (2-20-07)]]

Let us consider that life is an ultra-marathon that begins the day we are born and continues until the day we die. As we run the race there are many obstacles we face along the way, but we find it much easier to face those obstacles when we know The Lord is right there with us. Christ is the champion who lived and died and then rose back to life for all eternity. His death was a challenge He had to face, but He willingly gave His life though He had done nothing wrong so we too could receive a wonderful everlasting life with Him. Let us give praises to Christ for the salvation He has provided.