One piece of advice I have heard several times in my life while trying to accomplish a goal is, “Keep your eye on the prize.” This is really just a more effective way of telling someone not to get distracted by the things that seem to be inhibiting them from reaching their goal. For example, if someone is trying to complete a marathon, focusing on the finish line will help them to keep running when they start cramping and their legs feel like jello. That finish line represents something to them that is worth all that pain. They can envision all of their family and friends standing there waiting to congratulate them for accomplishing something that took months of training and dedication. If the prize outweighs the pain, then the pain is worth it.
This brings up a very good question about our personal walk with God. What is the prize? Contrary to many popular views, the prize is not prosperity, good health, or even happiness. Some of these things may come as a result of our close walk with God, but they are not the goal. These are all wonderful things, but they don’t even compare to the true prize. The true prize is that which Jesus made available to us when He gave up His life on that cross. The true prize is our relationship with God. The true prize is that we get to walk hand-in-hand and step-by-step with the Almighty Creator of the universe.
In the business of life, it can be so easy to exchange the true prize for something so much less. It doesn’t even have to be something bad. Some exchange the prize of a relationship with God for human relationships. Some find it easy to substitute their relationship with God for comfort and security. Some people seek after the prize of impacting the lives of others through ministry before they seek after their personal relationship with God.
I heard a message recently in which the speaker offered an argument that I had never heard before. He was talking about when the Israelites left Egypt, and his claim was that the ultimate goal was not the promise land. This speaker said that the ultimate goal was for the Israelites to be able to worship their God. I wasn’t sure about this until I went and read the scriptures in Exodus. Multiple times in the book of Exodus God sends Moses to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go so that they may worship me” (Exodus 8:1 & 9:1). It nearly brings me to tears to think about what God was really saying here. God was essentially telling Pharaoh to let His people go so that they could spend time in intimate relationship with Him.
This has been God’s goal from the very beginning. Since the Garden of Eden, all God wanted was for us to to enjoy our time on this earth in the context of a close personal relationship with Him. That is why to this day He continues to pursue us, and continues to draw us to Himself. Think about it in context of the parable of the prodigal son, when the loving father runs with excitement to meet his son that returns home. That is how much God loves you, to the point that He rejoices at the thought of truly embracing you.
My question for you today is simply this, “What prize are you chasing?” Is it the only prize that can truly satisfy, or have you been chasing after something other than your relationship with God? If you have, it’s okay. God is not upset or angry with you. He burns with passion to reconcile with you. His desire for you hasn’t disappeared. It is as strong as it ever was. You simply need to reach out and respond to His loving invitation. Shift your eyes back to the true prize.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.– Micah 6:8
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God – Hebrews 12:2