But that is almost always easier said than done, so the verse provides useful guidance on how to go about it. First it reminds us of a great “cloud of witnesses” who illustrated how faith looked and functioned in their lives, examples that still “surround” us now.
Second, it tells us to “strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us.” This is the tricky part. It may be difficult to identify all the unnecessary weight we allow to get in our way in life, and even if we can identify all the things and people that fall into that category, it can be even harder to strip them off and throw them aside. In some cases, they have formed the basis of our lives for decades. As if those things and people who unnecessarily weigh us down were not enough, each of us also has some impediment that is a particular stumbling stone – something that may not hang up our friends but for us creates such a block that it often seems impossible to overcome. It might be procrastination or resentment or feeling inadequate or perfectionism or fear of whatever stripe or a desire to remain invisible or even simple laziness. Whatever it is, each of us privately knows that awful thing that deftly and cleverly clings to and entangles us.
Will-power alone will not be enough to overcome that private issue that swamps you again and again. If you are going to run your race, you have to rely on faith in supernatural assistance.