"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. 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" ( 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV).
On Monday night our 15-year-old grandson Calvin ran the cross country race and won the prize. Due to having too many concussions last year in football, he decided last spring to run cross country this fall. He began training as soon as school was out and ran all summer long, teaching his body to be strong with endurance. It paid off on Monday when he led the entire junior varsity race by a substantial lead finishing in around 19 minutes.
In most cross country races there is a four-wheeler that leads the runners through the measured course that often takes place around a golf course or park. The landscape is often very hilly and the trail is rarely straight. The path is mostly grassy but can include muddy patches in wetland areas. They usually paint a line and frequently there are areas where the runners run an area more than once. That makes it easier for spectators to catch more than one glimpse of the favored runner. During the fall season the weather can be boiling hot or bone-chilling cold.
The stamina cross country requires can be seen on the face of every runner in the race. Even more than being about winning a prize, the race is a personal challenge for each individual to finish, to improve their personal time, or to not throw up at the end. With nearly 200 runners in the race it was a mass of faces poised in challenge, struggling and succeeding.
If only I could work that hard at being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I know how wonderful the prize is if I win the race and receive the gift of eternal life. It is definitely worth the effort. Lord, help me get my race face on and meet the daily challenges you place in my life. I want to receive the lasting crown of everlasting life with you. Amen.