Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:13b-14 (NLT)
Can you imagine watching a race where the runners had their eyes on the starting line rather than the finish line? Think for a moment about what would happen. It would be a mess! The runners would slow down because they kept turning around and they would be crashing into one another. Some would get the bright idea to take their eyes off the finish line all together. They would turn around, face the starting line and proceed to attempt to run backwards. Oops!
If they did ever manage to reach their destination, they would have done with difficulty and endured unnecessary hardship. You see, your feet follow your eyes. If you do not believe me, get up out of your chair and fix your eyes on a point across the room. Now walk toward that point but as you do, take your eyes off that point and look off to the side of it instead. What happens?
I tried this once with my point being the door of the room I was in. I got up and began to walk towards it. Then I moved my eyes to the right and fixed them on the closet door instead. Now I kept trying to move my feet toward the door leading into the hallway which was my destination but guess where I ended up? That's right. Instead of walking out the door, I ended up at a dead-end, facing the closet. Hmmm... that wasn't where I wanted to go.
Now I was physically able to walk to the proper door. I wanted to walk to the right door but I ended up elsewhere instead. Why? Because my eyes were not on the right destination.
As Greeks, the Christians at Corinth would have related well to the analogy of running a race. Corinth was the site of the Isthmian Games. This event still held when Paul wrote his letters to the Church at Corinth and indeed, continued on until nearly the end of the 4th century when it was outlawed by Theodosius I as a pagan practice.
The winners were originally awarded a crown of celery leaves. This was later changed to a crown of fir. It doesn't sound like a very great prize does it? However, there was of course, the glory and honor that went along with it.
We are not running a race where the prize is a crown of celery leaves or fir. It is a crown given to us by God Himself! Like any race, you must put for an effort to run and to run well. No matter how hard it gets or how much you may even hurt, you must keep your eyes on your destination rather than looking behind and just keep running.
This is not to say we should not remember how far we have come. Indeed, remembering what God has taught us and brought us through serves to further our resolve to keep on running lest all that we have endured be in vain. However, we must never forget the prize we are running towards. A prize far more precious than the richest of mortal crowns. As we run, in the midst of every challenge, as we presevere, we must remember... the best is yet to come!
Some of us can run better than others, but this does not disgrace the slower runners, but rather the stronger runners must encourage the weaker runners, and the weaker runners, by their perseverance inspire the stronger runners, for we are all in this together.
I loved the Pilgrims Progress (and Regress by Lewis).
What is great in the word you shared (though I personally loath running) is Christ's calls for me to finish the race vs. win. Wonder Who won? :-)
I see pictures of track events, a teammate falls or through exhaustion stops to quit. Love seeing the crowd roar not for the winner but when they see a fellow teammate or even competitor come along, pick-up and put arms of the exhausted or fallen one over their shoulders and help them to the finish line.
Kind of like what we're called to do...
Thanks for sharing K!