"Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it" (1 Corinthians 9:24).
One of my favorite and inspiring football movies of all time is the sports classic, Rudy. It's the story of an undersized, middle class young man of meager means, but great ambition. Competitive as a high school football player, he was clear that he was more gifted with heart and passion than with size and skill. His dream was to play with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. He was turned down at every twist and turn, only to find himself serving on their practice squad. By the end of the movie, you find that Rudy gets a once-in-a-college-career shot of playing on the field with the team of his dreams. With determination in his eyes and passion in his heart, he is triumphant in succeeding to bring down the offensive player with the football. The crowd erupts! The cheering was not so much for one who would be famous for his skill, but for one who would not give up, but who would fix his eyes on the prize, endure through the pains and disappointments, and purpose to obtain it.
Though life is more complicated than a sporting event, it is a competition. Paul likened it to a race, invoking the imagery of the Olympic games of his time. We are not in competition with each other. We do, however, face an everyday battle with those things that would seek to hold us back from the obtaining the prize that God has for us. Victory in our lives will not just happen. Spiritual growth is not random. It is strategic, on purpose, and with great determination. Jesus did all that needed to be done to make it available to us. He has given us the ability. We have to use it. We cannot live as though our choices don't matter, our thinking doesn't matter, or that we don't matter. We are to run as though we intend and expect to receive all that Christ has desired for and made available to us.
Each day you are running a race against your desires, against time distractions, against negative feelings, emotions, and insecurities. God has placed an aim, a passion, a vision, a dream in your heart. He desires you to run victoriously in this life, a winner, successful, and blessed. There is nothing you can do to earn or deserve such a prize. He has already won it and has now placed it before you. The question you must answer is this: "How bad do you want it?" Are you willing to live a life of discipline, passion, and endurance? Are you willing to let go of everything that would seek to pull you back? Are you willing to rise above the pain, the weariness, and the fear; to trust Him for what you don't have, and to focus on Him who is calling you to a greater prize than you can fathom? Run to win. You don't run alone.