Getting ready ∙
Don’t you realize that in a race, everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! – 1 Corinthians 9:24
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
On Mar 24, 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC ) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly announced the postponement of the 2020 Olympics to 2021.
Olympic competition has been canceled only three times in the 124-year history of the modern Games, and all three instances were because of global conflict (1916, World War I; 1940 and 1944, World War II). But never before has a Games been pushed back a year, an enormous undertaking for a global event with more than 11,000 athletes from around the globe.
The life of an Olympic athlete can be challenging and austere, and the training schedule can be relentless. Most athletes wanted a postponement, though even that has its challenges.
For days, athletes had been voicing concerns about the 2020 Tokyo Games, worrying that they were jeopardizing their health and the health of others if they continued training while many of their countries were locked down and restricting activity.
Getting ready to win takes determination, focus, and visualization. In an athletic race, 99% of the time, only one individual can win. Now and then, there is the rare tie only visible via a “photo finish.”
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
But in the spiritual race, we can all win the prize. The Father may take us through tough, grueling times, but He does all this to do us “good in the end.”
REFLECT & PRAY
We may not see that good right away, but if we trust Him, He will bless us in His time (Stanley).
Father thank You that You care enough to give me a challenging course to run that I might win in Your service.
The training course and regimen to win spiritually are entirely different than what we would expect. The Father has a unique program that he takes each of His children through to prepare them to be winners. It is bizarre, almost inexplicable, that to win, we must lose!
Rather than using athletic competition and training, the Father uses “the wilderness” to get us ready. He humbles us and often brings us to an end of ourselves. When we can no longer make it on our own, help ourselves, we learn to depend upon Him. That is when we become winners in His sight.
2 Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character and find out whether or not you would obey his commands.
3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
5 Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good.
11 “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.
12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in,
13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful!
14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.
The wilderness is the place where the Father gets us ready to serve and ultimately win.
These words are spoken in the background by Cecil B. DeMille regarding Moses in the movie the Ten Commandments. He is struggling, famished, and thirsty, yet he continues to move forward in the harsh, dry, and parched desert. Finally, Moses arrives in the physical location and spiritual place where the Father wants him to be:
Into the blistering wilderness of Shur, the man who walked with kings . . . now walks alone.
Torn from the pinnacle of royal power; stripped of all rank and earthly wealth; a forsaken man without a country, without a hope; his soul in turmoil like the hot winds and raging sands that lash him with the fury of a taskmaster’s whip. He is driven forward, always forward, by a god unknown, toward a land unseen . . . Into the molten wilderness of sin where granite sentinels stand as towers of living death to bar his way.
Each night brings the black embrace of loneliness. In the mocking whisper of the wind, he hears the echoing voices of the dark. His tortured mind wondering if they call the memory of past triumphs or wail foreboding of disasters yet to come or whether the desert’s hot breath has melted his reason into madness.
He cannot cool the burning kiss of thirst upon his lips nor shade the scorching fury of the sun. All about is desolation. He can neither bless nor curse the power that moves him, for he does not know where it comes.
Learning that it can be more terrible to live than to die, he is driven onward through the burning crucible of the desert, where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged for God’s great purpose, until at last, at the end of human strength, beaten into the dust from which he came. The metal is ready for the Maker’s hand.
Such harsh and brutal “training” in preparation is never easy but grueling, severe, and painful. It is the discipline required of a world-class Olympian. Many drop out and cease their efforts. However, when we recognize that the Father is purposely taking us through it to achieve His dream and goal for our lives, we find personal reserves and purpose we never dreamed of.
24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.
26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.
27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.
© Dr. H 2022