Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12: 1-3)
There are many lessons we can take away with us from this passage in Hebrews, but the phrase “the race marked out for us” is not usually emphasized. This past Sunday at Whispering Hope Methodist Church, Hannah Yeoh highlighted to the members of the congregation that Christ has specifically marked out a unique race for each and every one of us, and that we are to run that race to the best of our abilities.
Like many young Malaysians, Hannah did her undergraduate studies overseas. She studied Law in Tasmania, Australia, and had no intention of returning to Malaysia. However, God had a very different plan for her life.
“After almost five and a half years of equipping myself to work in Australia, my whole dream came to an end after my PR application did not come through,” Hannah said. “God gave me only one Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
“In my mind, it was a bad decision,” Hannah said. “But I did not struggle, simply because I did not have the financial means to stay on in Australia. My earthly father and Heavenly Father both said ‘pack and come back.’ So I obeyed, and came back.”
Hannah worked for three years in Petaling Jaya as a lawyer. At that time, she told God that she was not content just working during the week and going to church on Sundays. She wanted to do more—to live a life of service to the Lord. So she started becoming more involved in ministry.
Then, God told her to quit her job as a lawyer, and she became an event manager with her father’s business. For two years, her job was to check redemption receipts. “God was preparing me for something bigger,” she said.
“If you want to live for God and serve God, you may have dreams and your own plans, but you have to be flexible for God to use. He will take you through different seasons at different times, but the key is to be obedient. Because you never know the next step that God is going to take you on.”
Never in her wildest dreams did she think that her life would become what it is today. Becoming an elected representative required her to literally die to self and put the community’s needs before her own. “I felt like I was going to lose my life for this cause, and I had no idea how big or to what extent it was going to be.”
After two years of public service, Hannah was ready to quit. Her days were long, demanding, and exhausting. But then, God sent a pastor who said this to her: “If Christ was constantly looking for encouragement, He would not have gone to the cross.”
The rebuke was gentle, but it hit her hard. From that moment, she stopped complaining and began to truly let God use her through the platform she had been given. It has been seven years since Hannah become the State Assemblyman for Subang Jaya, and she continues to serve her people in obedience to the Lord.
“Two nights ago, I dreamt that I was running a race,” Hannah said. “It was a short, hundred-meter race. In that dream, everybody told me that I must win that race, so I said ‘Ok. I will win the race.’
“I thought to myself that I’m going to run very fast. But when I started to run, I felt so slow. I struggled to take the next step and the next. Yet, I was happy because there was no one else in front of me. Other people were all behind me, slower than me. So even though I was not happy with my performance, I was contented that I was winning this race.”
That was when she began to search the Scriptures and arrived at Hebrews 12:1-3. “Christ has marked out a race for each of us. It will be a great mistake to think that we would all be running the same race. Some of us will be called to run four hundred meters, while some of us will be called to do a hundred-meter dash. Others of us may be called to do a fifty-kilometer run.
“So if you are constantly looking to your left and right at what other Christians are doing in your church or other places, you will not complete the race that Christ has marked out for you. You can slack or backslide if you look around you and think, ‘Actually, I’m not doing so bad.’”
“We must discern what God wants for us. For some of us, going to church is already a lot, and God is pleased with that. But for some of us, we could have 100% church attendance, and God is still not pleased. So recognize the race God has for you, and finish it well.”
“The worst days for us have not yet come,” Hannah reminded us. “In the last days, you will hear conflicting voices coming from the body of Christ. As Christians, who will you listen to? A time will come when you will be confused if you are not grounded in the Word of God. If you are looking to man and Christian leaders, you can fall. Because man can fall. You need to ground yourself in the Word of God.
“Do not be too comfortable. If your life is too comfortable, go back to God and ask if there is something you are not doing right. We are not called to suffer all the days of our lives, but if it is too comfortable, maybe, just maybe, you may be called to give up more or do more.
‘The wisdom of God looks like foolishness to the world. There will be things that God wants you to do, and your friends and family will think that you are laboring in vain.” When Hannah decided to campaign seven years ago, people told her, “You’re not going to accomplish anything.” Similarly, people laughed at Noah and mocked him when God told him to build an ark.
“We must not look at the world’s standards when we’re looking at the race marked out for us. Each one of us is answerable to our own race. Walk close to God, read His word, obey, and listen to the Holy Spirit. You must be prepared. There are so many people in Malaysia who are just waiting for laborers to go out. The harvest field is out there, but the church is not ready.”
As Christians, we must remember: “Nothing is too difficult for God. The only problem is, the people of God limit Him with our unbelief.” Hannah concluded her message by affirming that, “There is great satisfaction in doing God’s work!”
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