Last week, I ran as part of a relay team in a marathon in my hometown of Cincinnati. It was a lot of fun, and I actually met my goal for my leg of the relay! I ran just under 7 miles in 60 minutes. For you frequent runners out there you are probably thinking, “Yeah, so? That’s not that great.” Well, your right. But for someone who hasn’t ran in a race that far in 4 years, I’ll take it!
I used to run in these type of events a lot, but I haven’t ran in many the past few years. I had a minor knee injury a few years ago, and it kept me from being able to train and compete at the level I wanted to. I noticed an interesting thing in those years that I wasn’t running in races. When I am not running in races I don’t run at all. When I am not running in races, I don’t have anything to train for. Without a goal in front of me to shoot for, running seems boring and it feels like a chore. I don’t find much excitement or passion in it.
However, it is totally different when I know there is a race coming up. Running doesn’t feel like a chore, but more like a privilege. Every day, when I have a chance to hop on the tread mill or go for a jog outside, I set a timer and I start competing. I thing about the finish line, and the time I want to read on the clock when I cross it. Running becomes fun and exciting! I don’t find myself doing it just on race day anymore, but on most days leading up to the race as well.
After the race was over last week, I couldn’t stop thinking about verses 24 and 25 in 1 Corinthians 9 that read, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
This verse really led me to ask myself the question, “What lies beyond my finish line at the end of my life?” In essence, what am I running for? It’s pretty obvious that our goals determine our activity. I believe this is the principle behind the above scripture from 1 Corinthians, but what is this prize that Paul speaks of? What is this crown that will last forever? More importantly, is that the goal I have truly set before myself, or am I still running just towards a worldly goal that will vanish almost as soon as my life is over?
There is only one prize that last forever. There is only one goal to set before eyes worth giving our lives for. That goal is the person of Jesus Christ. In the same way that I get my timer our every day while training for a run, we should get up every day and fix our eyes on Him. Our goal is 100% obedience to whatever He asks us to do. Our life is the strict training the Paul refers to, and we are training for that day we will meet Him face to face.
What lies beyond your finish line? What is the goal set before you that determines your activity each and every day? Is it something temporal that will slowly vanish the moment your life ends, or is your goal a goal that will last for all of eternity? My goal is to fix my eyes on Jesus. It brings me to tears when I think about that moment that I will cross the finish line and see Him standing there. He is the prize that will last forever.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3: 13-14