Winning. Competition. Trophies. Prizes. Those things all held real sway for me as a young athlete. I wanted them. And, many times, I got what I wanted. I was successful, often a winner. Much celebrated and complemented. When I became a Christian I came to see myself on the winner’s podium, and I didn’t necessarily like what I saw. I didn’t like:
- the elevation
- the view
- the way people were looking at me.
But most of all I didn’t like the pride I took in myself or the temptation to hold myself in high regard. So I “graciously” stepped down to “help others less fortunate.” Now here was something that wouldn’t be a temptation, right? No podium. No trophy. No prizes. No striving.
Problem was…there was still this matter of running the race. The race for the prize, that being the heavenly call.
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Philippians 3:13-15
God has designs on my life. He has designed me for this race. Not to meander along the way. My husband, ironically not a professing Christian or a student of the Bible, told me last night, “Your goal is to keep your eyes on the prize.” He meant, don’t let distractions stop you. Don’t interrupt your race to correct the folks who are misbehaving, the people who trip you up. Don’t stumble over the stuff that isn’t worth stopping for. Keep your eyes on your objective. Eyes forward.
Funny, because this put competing in a whole new light. It was okay to push ahead as hard as I could, as long as I kept my eye clearly on my goal, the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus would not justify “all means” to get to Himself, but my stopping to tidy up around every turn, to make sure that everyone who interrupts my progress is set straight, is not my calling. They are running their own races. I have been dallying in mine and this is not of God.
Along the course of every road race there are many, many intersections. I am pledged to look both ways before crossing, perhaps lend a hand at one or grab a cup of water at another, but the main thing is the race.
Let my eyes not stray and my will not waver from His course and His will which, for me, is the race set before me. This kind of freedom is the only way I can run the race of my life.