An athlete in training is a sight to see. The best of the best eat a healthy diet, practice on a frequent, scheduled basis, speak attainment of the prize they are seeking into their life, and adhere to the wise words of their coach or coaches. One word to describe such an athlete would be: DETERMINED. Each end every day that they go out and do their drills, they perform them with purpose, not just because lifting weights is fun or because it keeps them occupied, but because they are determined to achieve the goal that they have set out to achieve, whether it be a personal record or a world record.
So why does Paul compare the life of the Christian to that of an athlete? Because both strong Christians and great athletes share something in common… determination. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” Like the best athletes we should be determined to be more Christ-like and determined to achieve our ultimate goal, which is Heaven. But unlike the athlete, we never retire from our sport (Christianity). In this life and even in Heaven our goal is ALWAYS to be like Christ and to walk in the purpose that HE has for our lives.
James chapter 2 tells us that faith without works is dead and Ephesians 2 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith, which is a gift from God. So each and every day we wake up we should walk in this, knowing full well that it is not going to be easy and knowing that although we believe in the saving grace of God, we have a responsibility to ACT UPON OUR FAITH. Thus, determination is the ultimate proving factor of our faith.
A determined athlete keeps on running even when it feels like their lungs are going to collapse and their legs are going to give out,. A determined Christian keeps going to class even when they know it has already been 7 years, they still haven’t attained their degree, and they don’t know how they are going to pay for their classes for next semester. A determined Christian does what is right even when they are ridiculed, outcast, and treated like a leper. A determined Christian speaks life into the body of their mother lying in bed, slowly deteriorating from cancer. A determined Christian wakes up to pray at 3am when they feel the spirit tugging on them, even though they know they have to be up at 6am for work. But most of all, a determined Christian walks in their purpose of utmost importance, striving to be more and more like Christ each and every day so that at the end they can say like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Sometimes, I find myself thinking that the Christian life is not for me, and that there is no way I have to power within me to remain determined and committed to God for the rest of my life. But then I remember that no matter how many times I fall, if I get back up and continue racing towards God, he will strengthen me. He is like the “water volunteers” at the 5k walks. Along the race, he will hand you cups of water to satiate your thirst and towels to wipe the sweat of life off of your brow. If we continue to RUN WITH PURPOSE and remember to lean on him when we feel weak, He will strengthen us to achieve the goals that we you set out to achieve. With Jesus we can make it!
Merciful Mondays: Jael
“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 4:31