“We’re going to race 100 times around the couch. Is that okay?”
A long sigh sputtered out of my mouth, clearing the dust off my laptop and aimed at my eager older son. Cole bounced excitedly up and down across the great room, smiling ear to ear.
We’d just taken a mile walk around the neighborhood followed by a half hour in the backyard playing light saber-soccer-dodge ball. Plus they had an hour of PE and a 45 minute recess at school that day…
If only I could bottle and sell their energy to adults.
“Isn’t 100 times a bit much? How about 50 times each?”
I looked back and forth between my two bouncy boys.
“Or, you could race in the yard.”
“We already raced there. We want to do a couch race.”
Couch race? Now that’s an oxymoron!
“Fine, but do it one at a time so you don’t crash into each other or furniture.”
I grabbed the earplugs by my laptop, pulled on my bulletproof vest, and hunkered down. (Okay, this sentence is pure fiction – but possible.) Chase took a turn first, his blond head bobbing and bare feet smacking the carpet as he traced the L-shape of our couch in the middle of the great room. Round and round he went, giggling and squealing while his brother counted laps.
Cole eagerly waited for his turn to jog around our couch, and as my eyes followed our sons’ couch race I thought about the upcoming lesson I’d be teaching in Sunday school.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24
That week we were learning about Paul’s powerful analogy of running the Christian race of faith well. Throughout his many letters, the apostle Paul’s words – and ministry – remind us that Christ followers press toward the goal of knowing our Savior more and living Him in our lives.
This is no couch race. The race for Christ is grueling, counter-culture, often unpopular and misunderstood, a day-by-day, grace-filled and faith-powered journey toward our Savior’s heart. We run our race for Christ, for an eternal reward that cannot be measured and will not be taken away – because we run for an imperishable crown of life.
“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” (9:25)
Sometimes the glinting medal from my 2009 triathlon catches my eye, a blue and silver beacon of a hard-fought victory against fear (swimming in a lake!) and a reminder of months of rigorous training. Getting in shape for that race meant strict discipline in the monotonous moments of each day – putting in an hour either running, biking, or in the pool, eating right to fuel my body, and making sure I was getting enough rest.
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (9:27)
One of the most striking traits I’ve learned about Paul while studying Acts and 1 Corinthians is his absolute devotion to his Lord and Savior. He was truly clay in the Potter’s hands. He knew that in order to run the race of faith, he had to be disciplined for Christ while totally surrendered to Christ.
Paul ran his race well because he kept his eyes on the Prize – knowing our Savior more and sharing Him with others.
“None of these things [trials, imprisonment, tribulations] move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24
Lord, one day I want to utter Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:7 and know in my heart my life reflects them well. But I can run well only when I’m found in You and Your word.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”