It’s hard to remember, but years ago before children and dress shirts and dinners at 6, I was a pretty avid runner. It was off and on through the years, but I tried to stay consistent. A few times a week. Or even training for some races.
It was when I lived in Taiwan that I really began running consistently and for a purpose. One morning as I was training on my own for a half marathon I came alongside an older gentleman. We began talking and he invited me to join his running club! Despite the fact that it was called “Evergreen” (in reference to the older age of the people in it) I considered this meeting an answer to prayer. Running alone was hard for me… and it was even harder to stay motivated.
Being in this running club connected me to the Taiwanese people, the Chinese language, and to a flurry of local races.
And let me tell you, these races were quite the experience! Nevermind some of the ridiculous running gear, loud obnoxious “pump-up” music, and overly exuberant pre-race exercise leaders… the race “prizes” were really something.
Some races had fabulous, tempting prizes- Bicycles, large trophies, money. These prizes made you want to run your hardest and reach the finish line first. Other prizes… not so much. Or they were mysterious. Ornately disguised in large boxes or colorful bags brimming with tissue paper and bows. Of these, you were never certain what you were going to get.
In my short, but somewhat successful term on the Taiwanese race circuit I received my fair share of unique prizes. I never won a bike. Or money. But I did win a handheld vacuum cleaner. And a collection of incredibly strong smelling soaps that were molded into sheep. Once, in my mysterious box, there was a pink lamp shaped like a fox. And then there was the time I won a box of lotion and bottles that were all written in Chinese. When I asked my roommate what it was she turned about three shades of red and tried to explain that they were cleansing products for your… ahem… regions.
Not really a prize worth running for.
So this morning when I was pondering our “eternal prize” as described in the Bible for those who follow Christ, I struggled to really understand what I was fighting for. I mean, it’s easy to say the “crown of glory” or “eternal life of joy and worship” or “jewels in your crown” but for a girl who is dreadfully practical, crowns, jewels or a trophy that sits on your shelf and collects dust is not of much interest. I have enough trouble dusting the furniture we have, let alone anything else.
So what am I really fighting for? What am I really living for? What does it look like? What does it feel like? I’m convinced it is incredible beyond anything that could possibly compare here on earth. Which makes it so hard for me to see… to be convinced… to be driven. But I want to try to understand. I want to try to grasp the magnitude of this journey. The pinnacle of this race that Paul spoke of so passionately.
But the fact is, I cannot truly comprehend what this eternal prize really is or what it truly means for my soul. Christian words fall empty at the feet of God’s unfathomable glory.
However, I do know it is promised. I do know it is worth living, and dying for. I do know there is no earthly comparison. And I do know that it is only by faith that we run, we persevere, and we open that prize to find something infinitely more worthwhile…