Only One Prize
I was coming near the end of a training cycle for running a marathon and my devotion for the day included these scriptures.
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away,
As someone who runs and trains, those words could be discouraging.
I was on the last three weeks of a sixteen-week marathon training cycle. I had logged 435 miles and I had about 100 to go before the ‘ PRIVILEGE’ of running the 26.2 mile race. A race I will not win but will get a prize.
I had been disciplined to train, was looking forward to the end and apprehensive about the race. You see in training for a marathon, you never have a training run of the same distance as the race. The longest training run is usually 22 miles. You also never log a large number of miles at the pace you plan to run the race. Actually quite the opposite, most of the training miles are slower, a minute or more slower per mile than race pace.
And according to this scripture, even if I reach the goal “finishing the race”…the prize will fade away. Again, not exactly the most encouraging words.
One question that haunts me during these training cycles….
Why am I so disciplined in getting this done but fall short in comparison to an on-going daily time with God?
But here is something I have learned about training…running or in a relationship with God.
During the training season I had to miss a day or two but I jumped right back into the plan.
I had surgery four weeks into the plan and had to walk away from the plan.
And at one point in the recovery from surgery I thought I wouldn’t be able to get back into training, but I did. Just a few runs and I was feeling good and realized the goal was a possibility.
For me it is the same in my daily quiet time with God.
My desire is to be disciplined so that I never miss a day, however, I am not perfect and it doesn’t happen.
Most mornings I sit at my kitchen table open up the Bible, read and reflect, even writing down thoughts, things God said to me during the reading.
But those mornings I don’t have my quiet-time doesn’t not stop me from continuing the next day. Just as missing a planned training session didn’t stop me from working toward my goal to run the marathon.
So when I read the scripture earlier I left out a part of it.
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 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.
My encouragement to myself and you reading this post: make a plan to be disciplined in your time with God, but don’t let one missed day set you on a pattern of missed days. Jump back in.
God wants our lives. He understands our failures. He wants us to want to ‘train’ with Him and for Him, for the prize of knowing and living for Him, now and forever. In doing so we win.