Monday, September 7, 2009

Run For The Prize

Run for the Prize
April 6, 2008
1 Corinthians 9:24 ". . . Run in such a way as to get the prize."

I recently took part in a 44 mile relay run. No, I did not run the whole 44 miles, but I had an acceptable leg of it. We had a team of 7 individuals, all running our respective lengths of the course, handing the baton at the end of each leg. Not being a runner by nature, it was particularly hard for me as I only had 40 days to prepare. I was excited to be a part of something bigger than myself, on a team with a few key individuals much stronger than myself. The race was planned for a nice spring day; we began to prepare to run for the prize. There were many teams that day, all identifiable by their respective team jersey. I prepared for my leg, knowing exactly how many miles I had to run. But when we got to the race, my length was several miles further that I had ever prepared for. In fact, it was farther than I had ever run in my life.

The weather did not cooperate, and as I started my leg, it began to rain and sleet with the temperature a rough 44 degrees enduring 20 mile/hour winds at my face. Despite a cold and wet wind chill of 26 degrees, one or two miles into it, my muscles felt warm, and I began to set the pace on cruise. There were many people on the sidelines, cheering everyone on, all in support of their own team, encouraging them to continue strong. Three or four miles into it, running against the wind, my legs began to burn, my lungs tightening with each breath. A few other runners began to pass me, but I was determined; I never stopped. I persevered and pushed through the difficulty. None of the other runners were about to stop and walk, they wanted the prize just as much as I did. I wanted to represent my team well, and I did. I ran as to get the prize.

Our Christian life is very similar to this relay race. We join a team, with some members being stronger than ourselves. We prepare for our relay, ready to hand the baton to our fellow teammates. There are many to cheer us on and encourage us in the race. But there is always the unexpected, the rain and winds and longer stretches, longer than we had anticipated or even prepared for. We still have to run as to get this prize, despite whatever reality comes our way. This is what the apostle Paul writes about when he said that all runners run as if to get the prize. This is true when the running is as planned, and this is also true when the running gets hard, when we hit the unexpected in life. We have a choice; we can turn around and quit, or we can embrace the challenge and run into the wind and the rain, persevering through the difficulty. We can go home or we can run as to get the prize.

I've known many Christians who have chosen to not run as to get the prize. They get lazy in their Christian walk and decide not to push through or persevere in the difficulty. Each runner must run as to get the prize and each must push through whatever adversity occurs. Despite most runners planning and training, the race is never, ever easy. Even the best of runners must put forth a huge degree of effort, and so must you in your Christian walk.

Christian, you are in a race, and it is long and hard, more difficult than you could ever imagine. It might be raining and the winds might be strong, but don't give up. Don't turn around and go home. Push through that adversity and run, not just your best, but run as to get the prize. Make your team proud and finish strong, no matter what reality comes your way, especially the reality you are dealing with right now.

1. What adversity are you running against in your Christian life?
2. Are you running as to get the prize; are you pushing through it?
3. What other team members can you cheer on and encourage?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Ps 119:32, Pr 4:12, 1 Cor 8:26, Gal 2:2, Gal 5:7, Phil 2:16, Heb 12:1

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