For the first time we have a child in public school sports. Our oldest has joined the track team. Because he has never raced before – yet is blessed with an athletic build and spirit – it was my expectation that he would make significant improvements through the season but would not be a top athlete. It is interesting to me to see the diversity of ability and spirit with which different athletes approach the race.
For many it is just something to do or required if they are to play football in the fall. Some have great potential and natural ability but have no passion. Others show great zeal or endurance and encourage their team members passionately but will never place. Some I think enjoy the exercise or the team atmosphere but are not there for the race. The great irony of it all is these tired athletes run their races before stands full of people in desperate need of exercise but who would never run if given the choice.
Many of the same attitudes are seen in the church today. There are some who enjoy the church scene but have not really joined the team. Others run the course of their Christian lives as though the outcome does not matter. Some give their best only to trip and fall and stumble to the finish line. Some start well but have no endurance. Others run well but can’t make the A team or qualify for the fast heat. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:29 that all run but only one receives the prize, Run in such a way as you might receive it (my paraphrase).
Wednesday night we were looking at Psalm 135 where the psalmist rejoiced that God had chosen Jacob. We are often too influenced by worldly thinking. We are told that none are to rise above others and all should be treated alike. It becomes strange to us to praise God for selecting me apart from others for a blessing – yet if I boast, it is not in my own merits but God’s mercies. It is a good and pleasant thing for me to be chosen. It is not right that the winner of a race should mourn because he did not finish last. Because God has chosen me the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places and I will rejoice (Ps. 16:6). One who loses might rightfully weep or wrongfully envy the winner, but it would be wrong to hand them a winners crown. Christian, God has chosen you to run the race but one receives the crown, run in such a way as you might receive it.
Our son in his first meet got his feet tangled with another runner and tripped and fell. In his second meet he thinks his competitor untied his shoe when he wasn’t paying attention. He lost his shoe part way through the race and had to run in his socks. Whether this set the bar artificially low or not, He has since been able to improve on his personal best nearly every meet. This is an encouragement to me.
Get up and run. Run in such a way as to receive the crown!