I Corinthians 9:25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to inherit a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable
In about eight days I will be running the Wrightsville half-marathon in Wilmington, North Carolina. Though this is my fifth half-marathon race I’m taking this one very seriously because I want to get a PR .
Since running my second half-marathon this time last year my goal has been to finish under two hours..I’ve been able to come close (within four minutes) but have yet to reach it.
The difference between running a 2:04 half and a 1:58 half mostly comes down to mental preparation instead of anything physical. By mile twelve everybody is hurting (if you aren’t hurting your not doing it right) so it’s about who is able to keep pushing through the pain.
Of course I can’t just wake up the morning of that race and say “okay I’m going to start pushing through the pain today!” Instead continuing to run hard even though it hurts is a habit that has to be developed over the weeks leading up to race-day.
Not everyone is going to run a half-marathon (I can hear your laughter from here) but we all know the importance of displaying self-control or discipline in order to gain a reward.
- You continue working hard so you can get a promotion
- You study all night so that you can pass the test
- You pursue that dream so that you can experience it as a reality
The idea of not giving up just because somethings hard is a huge part of our daily life…but we sometimes find applying that to our spiritual lives difficult.
One of the biggest reasons for this is we don’t have a physical reward like celebrating a new personal record while crossing the finish line, or getting that promotion. In most cases there needs to someting tangible (we can see it) that can be used as motivation when things are difficult.
The apostle Paul knows this so he gives a good reminder that our reward in Christ will be eternal (imperishable)
Specifically he is talking about a crown (wreath) that was given to the winner of a race in those days, and looking forward to the golden crown Believers will be able to lay down at the feet of Jesus in Heaven. But there is also a sense where we will celebrate our Salvation for eternity.
The Bible is very clear that there will be no suffering, pain or death in Heaven (Revelation 21:4-5) which is a greater prize than any physical reward. So as we climb the spiritual valley’s of life our eyes can be fixed on eternity in the presence of God.
I look forward to my normal celebratory meal of pizza after the half-marathon (while buying an extra large tube of icy hot) and can guarantee you in that moment all the pain and hard work will be worth it. At the same time in a small way I pray this can be a reminder of how awesome it will be to tell God the pain I experienced was worth it for all eternity.
- personal record ↩