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. –1 Corinthians 9:24-25
I’m a runner–not Olympic quality; in fact, maybe I shouldn’t call myself a runner. I run. Most of the time I even enjoy running! It started back when I was sixteen when the minister at my church challenged us to write down some goals for life. I still don’t know why I did this but I wrote down that I wanted to run a marathon. At the time I had never driven 26.2 miles–let alone run them.
I did absolutely nothing about that goal for about twenty years. Then one day I woke up and told my wife Cathy I wanted to run in the Los Angeles Marathon. She laughed. Ouch! The first day I went out and bought expensive running shoes, running shorts, running socks, and a headband, but I didn’t have time to run. The next day I ran a mile. Can I be honest and personal? I hated it. The problem was that I had spent a good deal of money on “running stuff” and told half the world I was going to run in this marathon. Almost every day I ran, and some of those days I almost even enjoyed it.
With two months until the marathon, I still had only run ten miles at a time, and on that day I thought I was going to pass out! Now was the time to really move into high gear. I kept on keeping on. Mile after mile. Day after day. Okay, so there were days Cathy pushed me out the door.
All of a sudden the day of the marathon arrived. It was just me and fifteen thousand others. Wow! If they could do it, so could I. My goal was to finish… in one day. The first thirteen miles were a breeze. At mile fifteen I caught a glimpse of Cathy and my girls cheering me on. No sweat, this marathon goal was a breeze. At mile seventeen I ate an orange. Immediately, I wanted to vomit, go to the bathroom, sleep, and stop! In fact, I was seriously considering doing all of the above at the same time. I hurt. I took my pulse and found some positive news. I wasn’t dead. So I slowed my pace and kept going. I don’t remember miles seventeen through twenty-two. Then for some reason all my practice paid off. I got my second wind and coasted to the finish line with bands playing and my family cheering.
The first words out of my mouth were, “I never want to do this again!” I was tired. I was sore. I was in pain. (I was sweating!) After a brief rest, my feelings changed from exhaustion to pure excitement. My months of practice paid off. It worked. Discipline works.
God wants us to keep on keeping on. He doesn’t ask us to do great and grand things for his Kingdom. He asks us to be consistent and faithful. A consistent, faithful person is the one who gets more accomplished over the long haul.
1. In what area of your life is God challenging you to not give up?
2. What is the point Paul is making in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25?