“I don’t want to go.”
My daughter informed me that she had qualified to run in the district track meet but that she didn’t care to. Only the top three runners in each event are sent to compete with students from all the other schools in our area. Her news thrilled me, so I puzzled over her reluctance.
It didn’t take much probing to determine the cause for her lack of zeal:
She knew she wouldn’t win.
To be honest, she’s correct. I’ve seen the competition. I know exactly who will win the 1600M race and she’ll beat my gal by more than a full minute.
I tried to reframe the experience for her. I encouraged her to recognize the honor she was being given in representing her school at the meet. To thrill in the success God had given her and delight in the way He’s made her. I suggested she continue to train and give her best effort in competition as a way to honor her school and her God. We talked about the recent Olympics and how proudly the athletes represented their countries even if they weren’t in the hunt for a medal.
Paul’s words rang in my ears:
Paul was writing about the proper use of freedom, and the need for self-discipline in serving God. We live in a world that doesn’t always reward integrity. We don’t always get the pay raise, promotion or recognition. In spiritual terms, we may not be permitted to play the catalyst role in someone else’s faith journey. Maybe we don’t make the guest list to social events.
Have you been tempted to throw in the towel?
We cannot cease to “compete” in the games. We represent our Divine Maker in an earthly arena. If we abstain from ethical, diligent work, or stop testifying to the truth, or fail to engage in authentic relationships–simply because we may not “win”–we lose. We forfeit the opportunity to bring Him glory and reach others with the Gospel. In so doing, we fail to recognize the honor bestowed on us by being appointed as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Paul doesn’t say that proper training will ensure a win for runners. Instead he exhorts his hearers that they should run “in such a way” that they might. This was a metaphor, of course. In earth’s economy, only one can win. But in God’s kingdom, if all His runners train and run like winners, then God Himself most assuredly wins.
And that, my friends, is our ultimate goal.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
— Colossians 3:23,24 NIV