I've never been much of a runner. Even as a child I was only moderately athletic. I could run if the need arose during a game at recess or gym class, but it was never my thing. When it came to a race, I could hold my own and keep up with the pack, but rarely, if ever, won. The same holds true for me and swimming. I was on a swim team from about the age of 9 to 15. I did a decent job, was constantly complimented on what beautiful form I had in my strokes, but rarely won a heat. One day, when I was probably a bit down about that fact, my mother sat me down and explained that I didn't want it bad enough. I was good and pushed myself, but the other swimmers wanted it more and they were the ones who won. I wasn't really driven to win and therefore didn't push myself that extra little bit that it would take to get ahead. I did finally reach a point that I really wanted to feel what it was to be a winner and gave myself that extra push and I did start winning many of my heats. It took a lot of work and determination.
Why am I dredging up these childhood memories? This morning during my quiet time, as I reviewed some of my memory verses, one stuck out to me. It is 1 Corinthians 9:24 and it says, "In a race, all the runners run, but only one wins the prize. Run the race in such a way to win the prize." It is Paul who wrote this and he was talking about his goal of bringing others to Christ, which, if you know anything about Paul, is first and foremost in his life. He continues to say, "All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."
So, as I read this, I am thinking about what my race is. My life looks substantially different from Paul's. The race before me at this time is filled with a multitude of family responsibilities. When I look around at all I need to do, I feel completely overwhelmed. I feel like that race before me is filled with all these gigantic hurdles that I have no idea how to get over. The task looks exhausting. So, I question, "Am I running the right race?" I do think that I am right where God has placed me and He has a purpose for me being here. Perhaps I have placed a few extra self-imposed hurdles out there for myself, but for the most part I am in the right lane - on the right path. I think the key to many of my struggles is in that first verse. "Run the race in such a way to win the prize." I am running, but I am doing it just like I did it as a child. I am working hard, but I don't want the prize enough. I am not driven. I don't live with that extra push. I see this in my relationships, educating my children, how I manage our home, trying to be healthy and lose weight...every aspect of my life. I am working hard - really hard, but I am not giving it that extra push. I am not driven and focused enough to win.
I need to clarify that I am not competing with other people. On the contrary, I believe most of us are on the same team. This is a personal race. Perhaps it should be looked at as a spiritual race. There a couple of other verses that go right along with this race concept. They are Hebrews 12:1-2. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." I truly need to live my life with more diligence and perserverance. I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus to know the race set before me and I need to get rid of everything that hinders and distracts from that purpose. Who would have thought life would be so much work! But I am up for the task with Christ before me and God's strength at my back! I AM running to win that prize!