1 Corinthians 9:24, “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.” (NIV)
As I write this devotion, it’s the day after the big game. The underdogs, the Florida Gators, took a giant bite out of the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes, leaving
“It’s not how you start the game but how you finish,” he predicted.
At first I thought he was just throwing cold water on our celebration. As the game progressed, however, it was evident that we would not finish the race in victory, and my husband’s prediction proved true. I have found his statement to be true in the game of life as well.
There are seasons of life where everything goes right. We’re on a winning streak. We make good choices, make right decisions, and take wise steps. However, this season doesn’t last forever.
Eventually seasons change and we struggle to make the goal. Perhaps we fail to connect with our spouse or children. Sometimes we get injured by a bad deal, a harsh word, or the loss of a career. Defeat can lead to feelings of inadequacy, shatter our confidence, and cause us to believe we are conquered. Instead of pressing forward toward the prize, most of us are tempted to give up.
The Apostle Paul encourages us not to give up or give in but to finish the race. In other words, it’s not how strong you start, but how strong you finish that matters. It’s not how you started your marriage, your career, or your dream; it’s how you finish it. It’s not about what or who brought you down, held you back, or knocked the ball out of your hand. It’s about pressing on and winning the prize. However, in order to win the prize you must finish the race.
In the Christian race everybody wins. It’s quite different than earthly games where only one person or one team can win the prize. Our key verse explains this: “There are many runners but only one prize.” In the Christian race all may obtain the prize which is the crown of life. We should run because the prize is ours. Our inspiration comes from being on God’s team. As children of God, it doesn’t matter how many times we get knocked down. We can still finish the race as strong winners.
The Buckeyes lost their encouragement. They knew only one team could take home the trophy. You and I, on the other hand, have encouragement to persist in our course because the prize awaits us all. When we run well, we cannot fail. When we’re on God’s team, we’re on the winning team!
Life is going to tackle us to the ground from time to time. The Bible says because we live in a fallen world, we should expect adversity. So if we’re on a winning streak right now; look out! Adversity may soon be running down the field after us. That’s when we need to ask ourselves, “Do I want to start strong only or finish strong too?”
Dear Lord, Thank you for allowing me to be on Your winning team. Strengthen me within by the power of Your Holy Spirit so that I may press on towards the prize of eternal life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
When You’re Running on Empty by Cindi McMenamin
To get back in the game you may need to forgive someone who has hurt you or prevented you from playing well. Others may need to decide which team they are playing for. Finally, some may need to simply decide to get back in the game and finish strong.
What season of life are you in?
Are you on a winning steak or is adversity chasing you down the field?
Will you fight or fold?
What’s your score in life? Do you only start strong or always finish strong?
Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV)
Acts , “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” (NIV)
Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 23 March 2007.