"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2
In this life, everyone is running a race of some sort. Maybe you have a career, a passion, or even a simple hobby. You have a goal, you're learning everything you need to know about it and taking steps to achieve it. I'm sure you're aware that if you make mistakes on your path to achieving your goal, it will cause trouble and even prevent you from finishing. You know the importance of staying on path.
Above is an illustration of the space probes Voyager 1 and 2 as they made their way out of the solar system. The paths were well-plotted before the probes even launched, otherwise the missions might have ended in disaster before completing any of the objectives. The mission planners had to make sure they didn't crash into any of the planets they intended, nor did they want to crash into any of the surrounding moons or asteroids that might end up in the way. Everything in space is moving and it's all moving extremely fast, like tens of thousands of miles per hour. Fortunately, everything is on an orbital path thanks to gravity. Nevertheless, it's a nail-biting situation to be in looking at all the possible things these probes could crash into.
Not only do the mission planners have to plot a careful path, but the engineers have to make sure the navigation equipment is able to stay on the carefully plotted course. If they were to deviate ever so slightly, it would amount to a massive difference in the long run. For instance, if it were to only deviate 1 inch for every mile it traveled, the Voyagers by this point would be over 2 million miles off course!
Looking back to my previous post What-can-we-learn-from-Apollo-13 there's a lot to learn from the Apollo 13 mission. One of the many issues they faced was a shallowing trajectory on the way back home from the moon. As the spacecraft heads back home, it had to enter the atmosphere at just the right angle or it would end in disaster. If the angle were too deep, the crew would be crushed by the G-force of reentry and the craft would burn up. If it were too shallow, the craft would bounce off the atmosphere and launch the crew back into space. Keep in mind they were travelling at 25,000 mph by that point, which is fast enough to escape Earth's gravity. Therefore, if they missed reentry, they would be shot back into space to orbit the Sun forever. There was no chance to go up and rescue them, at least not before their limited oxygen supply ran out and they died.
At the time, neither the crew nor mission control could figure out why the spacecraft was continuing to go off course. However, upon further tests after the crew returned safely, they discovered a small puff of steam coming from the lunar module was causing the craft to go off course. They knew the lunar module gave off steam, but in the original mission it wouldn't have had enough time to cause trouble as it would only be operational for a few hours. In this case, however, it was making a straight line back to Earth on a 250,000 mile trip moving at an average speed of 3,500 mph. Therefore, a minor detail quickly became a potential for disaster.
Is there something knocking you off course?
Do you have any secret sin that you deal with? That, my friends, is the small puff of steam that will cause you to miss your mark at the end of your life! You are taking a journey through life moving at high speed, too fast to take back anything you do. Oh sure, a little "white lie" here and there, go ahead and download that music without paying for it, use God's name instead of a curse word, look at that beautiful woman with lust in your eyes as long as you don't actually do anything. Do you see how all of that can cause a problem?
Sin is defined as either an active rebellion against God or a passive indifference to His will. This is similar to the situation of the Apollo 13 crew, to miss the mark with God is to forever be apart from everything you hold dear. There will come that point in time when you pass from this life into eternity. At that point, according to Scripture you will stand before the throne of Judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) God will examine everything you've ever done in your life:
-Every word you've ever spoken, good and bad, even things you supposedly said unintentionally.
-Every thought that's ever entered your mind, good and bad, lustful, hateful and greedy thoughts as well. Your thoughts will be held accountable as your actions.
-Every action performed in public and private, good and bad.
All of which will be put up against God's perfect standard, the 10 Commandments. If you don't measure up perfectly, you will be counted as unrighteous. No unrighteous person will ever be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven, the only place for them is a very real place called hell. You have offended a perfect, just and holy God. He is perfectly within His rights to carry this out.
Perhaps you need to see the volume of sin, such as how far off course the spacecrafts would be if they lost an inch for every mile. Imagine you sin 5 times each day and live to be 70, that would be 127,750 sins counted against you by the time you die! But the fact of the matter is, you don't need to look at volume to be held accountable for sin, the reality of sin alone is sufficient for punishment.
Does this concern you? It should.
It doesn't matter if you're a Christian or not, sin is sin and it's dangerous. For the non-Christians, eternal punishment in hell awaits you if you die in your sin. I pray this is convicting to you so you will repent. For the Christians, holding in secret sin will cause harm to your witness and your reward. Do you want to wreck your God-given purpose here on this earth just so you can hold on to worldly pleasures?
Time for a course-correction!
If you're reading this, it means you're still capable of getting back on the right path. It means there's still breath in your lungs and sufficient brain function to understand what's going on. The crew of Apollo 13 had to fire their rockets for short periods of time while aimed in a specific direction in order to get back on track. You have a beautiful opportunity offered by God through Christ Jesus. His death and resurrection provides perfect payment for all of your sins, no matter how small or large. What's expected of you is to turn from your sins and trust in Jesus and you will immediately be put back on the right path. With Christ as your focal point for life, you will be able to run this race.
You don't know how long you have in this life before you're swept up into eternity. Don't put this off, there is nothing more important than where you spend eternity. Nothing in the world is worth racing for than eternal life with the Lord. Repent of your sin! Trust in Jesus! Get back on course and run the race with endurance!