I Corinthians 9:24 In a race, everyone runs but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win.
Have you ever ran a race? Did you come in first, last or just in the middle? Did you cross the finish line or just give up before the end? When we were children the games we played at recess or sports were mere competition. If we were the winner on a team or as an individual, all we have to show are memories, a trophy or a newspaper clipping. I am a very avid pack rat and keep everything. My husband has over a hundred trophies from High School. When we first got married, we displayed them in a case in our living room, however as time flew by they were moved into a box in the attic. They just take up space and our sons will have to figure out what to do with them when we pass away. Now our sons have numerous awards also throughout their rooms, in which I will gladly turn them over as they move out. The awards which we became so proud of the accomplishment are not so important or at least hold value as they once did. It becomes “been there done that”. However what does this prove?
Before we were Christians, we were the spectators or side line fans. However as Christians, we all participate in the race. Once we hear the gospel, we have lined up on the starting line. We hear the shot of the pistol, it is loud, it is a reality check, it is the starting point of faith. We take a leap, a step or run across the line of believing. Our faith motivates us to move very quickly at times in obedience of the set rules. We imagine the finish line although we don’t really see it, we know it is there. Along the way, we become tired at times, we fall, we are inspired, we get encouraged as we keep running forward and we help others along the way. We run forward with the ending in mind. Just because one starts the race doesn’t mean one always crosses the finish line. What happens when people stop along the way, want to turn back to their past? What happens when people decide to go back and then start again? I have seen people who think they are running in a race, yet the continue to run in circles instead of toward the finish line. Will some just give up? Will the time be allowed for some to finish or will they be swept off the path? The race to win is not for us to believe we are all against each other in competition. We don’t cheat, knock others down to get ahead. The race is to win against yourself. Yourself in the fears, the doubts, the unbelief, the selfish desires and the carnal ways of man.
A top athlete is someone who is disciplined, someone who has trained, prepared and endures until the end. It is not just the one who shows up in a Nike suit and shoes, along with a sweat band and water bottle, they look the part but out of shape mentally and physically. Jeff and I was in a 5K race once. I always wanted to say I have participated in a race. At age 42 the little over three miles was definitely a challenge. I came in fourth in my age group and yes I did finish. Another milestone for Melissa Phillips! Jeff was already prepared since he had been running almost every day for the last twenty years, me on the other hand had just started exercising a few months pryer. Needless to say, he had been preparing way before me. Being prepared in this ultimate race means you measure every indulgence, every decision according to whether it will help or hinder you. We must run the race with eternity in view. Obedience to God, even in details enhances your heavenly reward. We shouldn’t live here to make trophies in life, but make trophies in the life to come. Now that is something we can pass down to our children. At the ultimate end of a life of deep commitment and detailed obedience the one who wins gets a crown for eternity. Run your race to win!