“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” ( Mathew 5:24)
The Olympics are ever fascinating to watch. Over 10,000 athletes from around the world converge at one point in time to race and determine the best of their generation in one of the 400 events. Usually, this comes after years of hard training to capture the Olympic glory. One of the moving sight of any Olympics is to see the rapturous joy of a victor. But then there is also that pain quite obvious to the one who loses. Some break out in uncontrollable tears, and have to be comforted.
Incidentally, in his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul alluded to what makes a great Olympian. “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” ( I Cor 9:24). Here, Paul, is reminding us never lose sight of the fact that in the Christian life, we are in a race, eagerly expecting a prize, at the end of our earthly journey.
Paul gives us a number of tips quite useful to win this race. First, he points out the importance of discipline. “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” ( vv 25). One cannot expect to win an Olympic medal if they did not devote time to training for their event. This training often involves long and lonely moments in solicitude, but with the hope that years of struggle and self-sacrifice will bear fruits.
Likewise, to be productive the Christian life also demands those quiet and lonely moments of study and reflection, alone with God, which all flowers later in life culminating with the prize of eternal life.
Another equally deserving tip is focus. “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air” ( vv 27). Today, one thing we can count on is there is no shortage of distractions. Our lives are ever increasingly faced with an invasion of all manner of distractions, some which once one get locked into, absorb us to a point of addiction.
Here, it could be social media or fascination with some sports; but everyone knows that new lure which takes all his time. To win the Christian race, one must be careful to sort out what matters and focus on the real stuff, perhaps best pointed out elsewhere by Paul, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” ( Col 3:2).
Prayer today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, just like an athlete who trains to compete in a race, for the glory of a prize, I pray that you help me focus, train and discipline my life, for the ultimate prize of eternal life, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
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“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel” ( Zechariah 4:10).
The public life of King David is well known. However, there is an early aspect of his life quite hidden though we can get glimpse of it. The first time we get to know David he is a stay home kid while his big brothers are on to bigger stuff, like fighting with King Saul. “Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem” ( I Samuel 27:13-14).
Left home alone perhaps it was a time for David to bond with the old man Jesse. Maybe he sometimes felt idle and ignored. But there was something maturing in his life for the life ahead. For in the meantime as he would later point to King Saul once an opportunity availed itself, God was ironing out his CV. When he offered to take on Goliath and Saul hesitated, he quickly shot back: “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (vv 35-37).
That’s the point. What had apparent been idle moments God was preparing David for the battles ahead? He would not only emerge out of the shadow as a great warrior but also a shepherd of his people ever relying on God.
Equally so, for all of us, there are moments that might appear idle and we feel frustrated as we see the days go by. Yet, in His gentle ways, God is preparing us for great days ahead.
Prayer today: Lord Father God, maker of heaven and earth, for those periods in life of apparent inactivity and maybe trials, help me appreciate them as the maturing me, for in due time and season all will bear fruit, this I pray in Jesus’ name!