Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you might obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
– 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (ESV)
All runners have one thing in mind—the finish line! I have enjoyed competing in some road races ranging from 5K’s to marathons, and in each one, I have welcomed the finish line. Regardless of the race distance, getting to the finish line requires certain things from each participant. 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 or 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.
The Apostle Paul is describing to us another kind of race. We are reminded that our spiritual race will also be challenging. To get to the finish line will require resolve, strength, courage, persistence, and tenacity. We must be willing to 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 so much more. Paul was able to endure because he was focused on the finish. He didn’t allow himself to get distracted, and he understood he was running for a prize more precious than a medal that would tarnish or a T-shirt that would eventually wear out. We, like Paul, are running for a prize that is priceless—eternal life. It’s not a race for the faint of heart. Our challenge is to honestly look at the spiritual race we are running and determine if we are consistent in our efforts or simply on-again-off-again. Do we know where we’re going? Do we understand what it takes to get there? Are we running to win?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the race You have put me in. Help me to run with focus and to run to win!. Amen.