“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.”
– 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (The Message)
All runners have one thing in mind—the finish line! I have enjoyed competing in a number of road races ranging from 5K’s to marathons and in each one, I have welcomed the finish. Regardless of the race distance, getting to the finish line requires certain things from participants. They must be prepared and focused. They must discipline themselves to follow a training schedule that prepares them to compete. They must focus on maintaining a constant and consistent pace throughout the entire race. There is nothing a runner fears more than the dreaded initials DNF (did not finish) beside his/her name in the race results. Crossing the finish line means receiving the “prize”, usually a medal around your neck or the coveted race T-shirt.
Our scripture is talking about another kind of race. We are reminded that our spiritual race will be challenging. To get to the finish line will require resolve, strength, courage, persistence and tenacity. We must run with every ounce of energy we have. We will not finish the race if we are lazy and halfhearted. Paul speaks from experience, because his race included persecution, hunger, beatings, homelessness and much more. Paul was able to endure because he was focused on the finish. He did not allow himself to get distracted and he understood he was running for a prize much more precious than a medal that would tarnish or a T-shirt. We like Paul, are running for a prize that is priceless—eternal life. It is not a race for the faint of heart. Our challenge is to look at our own spiritual race. Are we consistent or on-again-off-again? Do we know where we are going? Do we understand what it takes to get there? Run to win!
Heavenly Father, thank You for the race you have put me in. Help me to run with focus and to run my race to WIN! Amen.