Enduring the Race
1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13
Running is the worst, I don't run. I relate to Ann Perkins on the show "Parks and Recreation." She says, "jogging is the worst, I know it keeps you healthy, but God at what cost!?"
Amen, sister friend!
I hate running and that's what makes this metaphor both distant and relatable at the same time.
"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
This metaphor feels distant because the endurance it takes to run a race is something I've never even tried to have. Maybe I tried when I was a kid and I had to in P.E... but later when I realized that P.E. doesn't last forever I decided I didn't want to run if I didn't have to. And so that admirable and desirable quality of endurance that runners have is not something I'm acquainted with.
It feels relatable though because I realize that in this life, this Christian ministering praying faith-ing life, I need to have that quality of endurance. And while I theoretically know that it wouldn't hurt to acquire a runner's endurance, I know that this Christian life endurance is of a different nature. It is stronger, more bearing, more patient, and much more necessary. If I decided to become a runner and I developed a runner's endurance it would not give me this kind of endurance but merely a picture of it. Hence the metaphor.
In this metaphor runners are congratulated for speed and longevity and they get a prize. They run with endurance because they keep their eyes on this prize. Maybe it's money, maybe it's a trophy, maybe it's a charity. They run because this prize is worth it. It's worth the aches in their sides, the sweat on their brow and down their chest, the blisters, the "can't catch my breath" feeling. Their endurance matches the value they put on the prize.
Whatever prize they have and whatever endurance they have to match it has nothing on the prize we run for and therefore the endurance we should have.
"They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."
Our prize is eternity, our prize in Heaven, our prize is JESUS. With our eyes on this prize we can endure anything. We are human, we need the Holy Spirit, we need His strength...but this prize is ever before us and we need only to remember that. That is endurance.