"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." — Hebrews 12:1-2
Hebrews 11 provides an interesting list of faith-heavyweights in biblical history. These are people who were able to see living possibilities where others only saw dead ends, who saw victory where others saw defeat, who saw what God could do when others saw the impossible. They not only saw with eyes of faith, but they also acted on that faith.
Each person mentioned here understood faith as a verb, as a spiritual muscle that allowed them to act. Faith helped them persevere even in the midst of difficult circumstances—like Joseph in Egypt. They were able to step out into the unknown with courage and to take risks—like Rahab and Gideon.
It shouldn't surprise us where this list ends: with "Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Jesus, Prince of peace. Jesus, Immanuel ("God with us"). Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords!
As we look forward to a new year and the journey of life ahead of us, we can look back at people who have lived by faith, spiritual ancestors in Jesus' extended family and many others who have been welcomed into the family of God. We can be encouraged by their stories. Even more, we can look forward to the One who looks encouragingly back at us, the One who came to die so that we could live with him forever.