By Michele Cushatt, former WFTJ director

“I gave my back to those who strike me,
And my cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting.
For the Lord GOD helps me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set my face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.”
~ Isaiah 50:6-7

May 27, 2002, Boulder, Colorado. The day of my first 10K running race. Sixty-two minutes later, as I crossed the finish line in front of 40,000 fans, I looked only for the faces of my husband and three little boys in the crowd, cheering me to the very end. They’d driven over an hour and waited for another two just for those few seconds of reassuring affirmation at the finish line.

April 21, 2007, Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Another day, another 10K race, but this time in my home town. Without a single familiar face in the crowd, I ran every agonizing step, climbed hills and covered rocky terrain, with the thought of quitting never far from my mind … and received my worst race time in five years of running. Due to other responsibilities, my cheering section couldn’t make it. How I needed them that day!

When Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth in Luke 4, it was as if he stood at the starting line of the launch of his ministry. I wonder if he hoped for a send-off, a crowd of familiar friends and family cheering him on as He embarked to finish the race the Father called him to run. It wasn’t to be, however. Instead of support and encouragement, those who once cheered from front row seats now hurled accusations and rage.

It’s hard to run a race alone. I have to be honest with you: When it comes to rejection, I’m a quitter. All it takes is the evaporation of my fan base and I hardly have the strength to keep going on. I need the support of those closest to me like I need air. But I’m not sure that’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with having people who encourage you, but absolute dependence on it? Well, that’s a fickle foundation if I’ve ever heard of one.

As Jesus left his hometown behind, I think He knew He was on His own. With a God who loved Him, yes. But without those people who should have understood him, believed in him, and cheered for him. He would face more opposition than praise, more rejection than acceptance. And still He ran, determined and face-forward anyway. Because the God who called Him was worth it.

Father God, strengthen me to do the same!

This post was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in 2010.
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