I spent a good part of my day yesterday trying to figure out where the will to work has gone in today’s youth. It was not only one of my teams that was having problems being motivated to move past their limits, but every girl I worked with yesterday. What I thought was a day full of frustration was actually a day of learning a lesson God was trying to teach me.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Chor. 9:24-27
I have read this passage over and over again throughout my Christian life and only until now has the Lord opened my eyes to the emotion behind it. It is pretty easy to understand this passage, after all, it is not like Paul is hiding anything in using the words, but this morning God revealed to me all that He was taking me through yesterday.
When an athlete is training for his or her sport they are consumed with becoming fit and ready. Their entire life is altered in order to meet their goals. Their diet changes, their sleep pattern changes, and time is carved out daily for intense training. A serious athlete who is training to win, trains in such a way that no one can deny his or her motives. I think of Rocky. Rocky movies spend a great deal of time focused on the training part of his life. They focus on his training tactics and personal efforts to prepare for the big fight. I love Rocky 3 when Apollo is training Rocky to take on Clubber. The main portion of the movie is all about these new training efforts made to change Rocky into being a new fighter. They even move him to a different environment so that he lives and breathes his training.
It must be the same with us. We must have a burning passion to finish the race on top. We cannot train for second place, we must alter our lives around the goal. Paul talks about disciplining his body for the sake. This is so incredible, just yesterday I was yelling out the words, “PUSH, PUSH, PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN. I KNOW YOU WANT TO GIVE UP, BUT KEEP GOING YOU ARE ALMOST THERE. THINK OF WHAT WE ARE TRAINING FOR, THINK OF YOUR GOALS, DON’T GIVE UP!!”
These words are huge for us all. They show me what I am lacking. I say as Apollo did to Rocky on the beach in California, “WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU MAN?” We must push through the pain, we must discipline our bodies so that there is nothing that will master over us and detour us from the path. We have to work and train so that when we run, we run with all of our might toward the kingdom of God. Our mission is like no other. No gold medal, no trophy, no ring can compare to the crown to be given us on that day! Push through the pain, work towards the goal, and run the race as to win. There is no second place.