The Prize That Awaits

By Ryan Dawson

I love watching the NHL Playoffs.  There is something compelling about the passion, intensity, and drive for success that I see in these athletes as they fight for the right to hold the Stanley Cup.  It is amazing to me that some of these athletes invest their whole lives to achieve a silver cup, and some make that same investment and never actually see their dream realized.  While I think we can learn a great deal from these hockey players in terms of their hard work, determination, focus, and mental toughness, it is important to remember that the Bible tells us, “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8.  

As followers of Jesus, we want to ensure that we are investing in things that will last for eternity, and not focusing all our energy and attention on things that will ultimately fade in value or pass away entirely. What are you investing in?  The things that will last forever are God, His Word, the souls of men and women, the spiritual fruit of a Christ-like character and work done for Jesus that brings God glory.   Are you investing in these things?  

I like what Paul says about going after these things with the intensity of a high performance athlete:  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

The word Paul uses for “press on” means to move quickly and energetically toward some objective—to hasten, to run, to press forward, and press on.  There is an intensity and an intentionality in this movement.  To “press on” requires focus and discipline, to ensure we don’t get distracted or side-tracked from pursuing our goal.  It’s easy to get distracted in life by the circumstances we face.  We can lose focus on what really matters by chasing life in material possessions and worldly success.  We can lose our focus on what really matters when we experience challenging and hurtful experiences, or relational strain.  We can become discouraged when things don’t turn out the way we envisioned, or we fail in some way, causing us to lose heart and faith in God’s goodness.  But these challenging circumstances can actually remind us to turn to God, who is our very present help in times of trouble.  

Paul reminds us to “press on” with intentionality and intensity to take hold of the very thing that Jesus came to give us, which is Eternal Life found in a vibrant relationship with Christ.  This is our prize, now and in the future. Jesus Christ is our priceless prize!

So, I want to encourage you to think about these things as you enjoy the playoffs and I pray that you will “press on toward the goal to win the prize” that God has for you.  

Fighting the good fight with you!  

Blessings, Ryan

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