Run to get the prize

Farmville Enterprise June 13, 2018

May and June are exciting months in the world of sports. The Washington Capitals just won the Stanley Cup, the highest honor in the National Hockey League, for the first time. Yale won the school’s first national championship in men’s lacrosse by beating Duke while James Madison, also Division I, earned its first national title in women’s lacrosse.

Play is underway for the NCAA men’s Division I baseball Super Regionals. Greenville, Raleigh and Chapel Hill were three of the host cities for Regionals when ECU, UNC, NC State, UNC-Wilmington and Duke were still in the mix for the College World Series. Duke and UNC have advanced to the Super Regionals. Seven North Carolina schools got to participate in the Division I men’s golf national tournament. Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho became the school’s first individual national champion in women’s golf.

The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are facing each other for the fourth straight time in the National Basketball Association finals. Some people are wondering if Lebron James might surpass Michael Jordan as the Greatest of All Time. Of course, my husband is partial to North Carolina’s Michael Jordan and Davidson’s Stephen Curry.

It goes without saying that most successful athletes dedicate an unbelievable amount of time and energy to their physical training. Almost everything in their lives revolves around the goal to win. Their schedules, diets and mindsets usually reflect this determination to be the best.

As Christians, how much more valuable is our goal to live in obedience to God’s call? Most athletes have a relatively small window of time to be at their peak performance. Spiritually speaking, we can continue to grow as disciples as we age, becoming more and more like Christ. The honors or awards of athletes are exciting but often are overshadowed quickly by the accomplishments of others. Nothing can compare to the prize of everlasting life in the presence of God for those who have been transformed by the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul draws a good analogy between the spiritual life and the life of athletes. “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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

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