When you need a reason to stay in the game

Staying in the Game“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:

1 Corinthians 9-24

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

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    • Ellen Landreth

      This was just so good and true. I love it when you take an incident from your family life and make a blog fit a round it. Story really drives home truth. It made me start thinking, what dreams in my life have I thrown in the towel.

      • Kirsten

        Thanks, Ellen! We really do need to evaluate where we’ve given up because we thought we couldn’t win. Did you come up with any areas where you need to get back in the game?

    • http://www.uptoknowgood.com Sara

      Oh, Kirsten, I needed this in ways hard to describe. I’ve been seeking God’s definition of “success” in several areas of life. I love the idea of representing and running so God wins. Years ago I did a marathon. I was much (much) closer to the last person to cross the finish line than the winner. Still, completing the 26.2 mile event was a huge win in so many ways. I pray your daughter, and all of us, will feel the same as we run.

      • Kirsten

        Thanks for praying for my gal, Sara. I appreciate that. I share your marathon experience, too! I’m glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for telling me so. :-)

    • http://www.theironingboard.org Jeannette Duwe

      AMEN! Such a wonderful reminder. Run in such a way….I need to remember that more often. Giving our all – regardless of the outcome. It applies in so many different areas of life – parenting, friendship, work, projects… Thanks Kirsten!

      • Kirsten

        So glad to hear from you, Jeannette! The only thing we can control is our effort; God is in charge of the results, right? Glad you found multiple application areas.

    • Diane Vander Pol Majeska via Facebook

      Beautifully written! Great reminder!

    • https://www.facebook.com/kirsten828 Kirsten Holmberg 8|28 via Facebook

      Thanks, gang, for your ‘likes’ on the post! It kind of like a virtual ‘nod’ in a conversation where I can’t see you. :-)

    • Kim Colby via Facebook


    • Deea Elliott Frisbie via Facebook

      Oh I love this. Absolutely true! Thank you for this!

    • Ava

      Love this. Love it.