I think a lot of people right now could agree that it’s time to gear up, get the running shoes out, blow the dust off, and get ready to run. This entire planet has spent the last 10 months being held back like a race horse waiting for the gates to swing open. Winter is upon us, and, when it gets this late into the season, I, for one look forward to longer days, warmer temps, and freedom without restrictions. Maybe it’s time to run, and I don’t mean just physically.
I would like to connect the Old Testament book of Habakkuk with the New Testament book of Matthew to create a platform to run on and a clear lane for us to understand our ability to run the race that’s set before us.
When we look into the book of Habakkuk chapter two and verse two, we find the Lord’s instruction to write the vision, make it plain so that he who reads it may run. In “The Message” version of this scripture, God says to write what you see, write it in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. The message to be written boldly is the vision from God and is a witness to what is coming. The vision is anxious to be fulfilled and doesn’t lie concerning its coming. The vision isn’t slow to mature; it is right on time. So what does this mean to us?
In Matthew chapter 4, Jesus finds himself at the end of a dark season, just like us. He has proclaimed his ministry and deity. We have been introduced to the Holy Spirit as he descends upon Jesus, and the spirit has driven him into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and nights. How Jesus came out of his isolation is how we should come out of ours because how we write the next chapter determines how well we, and others, can read it on the run. The vision was already set, the fasting just brought it to the surface, so what comes next is the race. God would not send us into complete isolation with him if he didn’t have a purpose for it coming out.
God told Habakkuk to write the vision in bold print for all to see. Once again, I think the answer is connected to the fourth chapter of Matthew. Verse 17 makes the vision clear when it says that Jesus exited his 40 days and then began to preach repentance. Jesus didn’t spend his time in fasting only to return to his carpentry shop. He completed his fasting journey so he could begin his repentance journey. I think we must remember that the vision is God’s, the race is set by him, and we are merely runners.
However Habakkuk is crying out to God for a win. It seemed to him that every bold lettering that he saw was a reminder of the enemy’s victory, instead of a win for God’s people. But every so often during those short three chapters, God gives encouragement and clearly marks the race, and he reassures Habakkuk that he is in charge, and victory is coming, even if it doesn’t look like it. The greatest faith comes in proclaiming and writing the victory, even when it seems that we are living in defeat.
Jesus followed the plan, and we can see it play out in the fourth chapter of Matthew. The plan is to bring light to the darkness, life where there was death, and running where there used to be stillness. The vision is easier to see when it’s written plainly and boldly. Jesus came out of his darkness, running. How will we come out of ours? Jesus ran to where the people were in order to bring salvation. He ran to bring healing to the sick. He ran to speak repentance to the masses, and he left what was comfortable to embrace what was difficult. He went from a private citizen building chairs in a little shop in Nazareth at the beginning of chapter 4 to speaking repentance and healing the masses at the end of that same chapter.
It’s time to run! Remember God didn’t send Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days and nights just to have him go back to building tables and chairs. Every word he preached, every person he called, every attack he endured, and every drop of blood he spilled was for your salvation, and it all began with a time of prayer and fasting. We’re coming out of our darkness, and now is not the time to return to the comfort zone. It’s time to run toward Jesus with everything in us and grab as many people to join us along the way.
Let us help you in your race. Let’s make it a habit to see one another every Sunday at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., at Christpoint Church, on the square, in Sparta. We’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.