Run To Get The Prize!
In 1983 an unusual runner showed up at the start of the most grueling race in the world. It was Australia’s 543.7 mile endurance race from Sydney to Melbourne. The race had a $10,000 award to the winner and was ran by the world’s best young endurance runners. Amazingly the surprise entrant was 61 year old Cliff Young. Most people thought he was a spectator until he surprisingly stepped to the starting line. Unlike the other runners Cliff wore overalls and work boots. Surely this must be some kind of joke the spectators thought. As he lined up to run people all around him laughed. When the race started the other runners shot off leaving Cliff behind jogging at his slow pace.
The other runners had their plans in place. Run for 18 hours rest for 6. That was the way the race was always ran. Cliff Young didn’t know about how everyone else thought. While the others rested Cliff kept running. This was a 5 day event and each day went the same. Cliff just kept running and running while the others got off of their feet. Although the other runners were much faster Cliff made up ground during their rest time. Amazingly it was Cliff who crossed the finish line first in the grueling event in a record time! He is a legend and his name is brought up every time the race is ran to this day!
I Corinthians 9:24 talks about running a race. Paul puts it this way. Do you not know that in a race all of the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. To truly understand this scripture we must put it in context. What race is he talking about? We can find the answer from the previous text. You see Paul was talking about finding common ground with people. His whole purpose in life as ours should be too was to get people to come to the Lord. He states that if he were in the presence of people who were under the law he became like them. He runs through different groups such as Jews and Gentiles and offers the thought that whatever their core belief is he will not do something that will cause them to argue with him.
Why is Paul so confident in his common ground theme? The answer comes in his theme for the whole text. You see Paul’s sole purpose in life was to win as many as he could to believing in our lord Jesus Christ. He realized that to do this he couldn’t get involved in the arguments that would turn people off and forfeit his chance to talk to them about the most important issue. That is the context of his running the race in such a way as to get the prize. The race is spreading the gospel and in order to do that he had to have an audience.
With this election season here it is easy for me to find something that I disagree with and put my two cents in. I have done this but feel it is important to stop. You see my purpose as a Christian just like Paul’s is to spread the gospel and see others come to Jesus. By getting involved in arguments I realize that not only will I not turn others to my beliefs but I will ruffle their feathers causing them to not listen to the important message of the gospel that I might otherwise have a chance to talk to them about.
As Cliff Young ran he had a single purpose. He did not get weary in his pursuit of his goal. He did not rest or become distracted by the others around him. When others stopped Cliff kept going! He seemed like the most unlikely man to win the race. He was old, he was not an elite athlete, he was not properly dressed for the event, and he was slow. None of those things mattered to Cliff as he single-mindedly ran his race. Those things shouldn’t matter in our race either. You and I may not seem like candidates to win the race either. People might not see us as ever accomplishing anything worthwhile. They might laugh at us even attempting to reach such a feat. However, with a single minded purpose, a belief in our heart, the power of God in our lives, and the desire to accomplish his will for us all things are possible!