Strive for the Prize

 

By Michael Anderson

At the end of July, the world’s greatest athletes will be converging on London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.  We will see the end product of four or more years of blood, sweat and tears, as these athletes have prepared their bodies and minds for this one event.  

I wish we could see their training before hand.  I wish we could see every mis-step, every fall, every failure, as they were training, not to scoff, or to make myself feel better by their failures.  But because I want to see how they get up.  What did they tell themselves when they fell in order to get back up? What mind games did they play at their breaking point to push themselves to keep going?  Sports psychology is fascinating because, among other reasons, it has a lot to teach us about life in general. 

Paul thought so too.  Which explains why he uses so many sports analogies in his descriptions of the spiritual life.  In one of his most famous uses, Paul says, “For I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to departis at hand. I have competed well;I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day – and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection onhis appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NET)

The Greek Myth about King Sisyphus tells of how he is punished by the gods to roll a huge boulder up a hill and then forced to watch it roll down.  Unfortunately, he is forever doomed to repeat this action over and over again.  The idea behind this story has haunted people through out the ages.  “What if my life is like Sisyphus’ life? What if there is no meaning to what I do? How do I know that I am accomplishing anything of significance?” 

There is great news for Christians.  What we do has significance. Eternal significance.  When we strive as Paul strove, there is prize waiting for us.  When we suffer and push ourselves beyond what we think we can manage, when we are poured out like a drink offering, we do nothing in vain.  Even those olympians who strive so hard for glory will eventually lose it.  However, our glory is anchored in the Eternal and Unchanging God of the universe.

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