“All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”
Corinthians 9:25-27 The Message 
I rarely use The Message when preparing for studies and writing. Today is an exception. As I read these verses I was struck by the reality of them in my life. Am I telling everyone else all about it but yet missing the mark myself? I say I’m running hard for the finish line with the prize in sight. Truly my heart’s desire is to hear those words “Well done”. But am I staying alert? Am I in top condition so I can give it everything I’m got? Or do I tend to be sloppy in my day to day living? Hmmm
In verse 25 the NIV translation uses the phrase “competes in the games”. That comes from the Greek word Agonizomai. It means to enter a contest, to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers, to endeavour with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something.
Why do athletes submit themselves to the extreme training? They know that everyone competes but only one person/team wins.
They do it for a gold medal, the trophy, the mention on the nightly news. Those things tarnish, fade away and are forgotten.
We are in a race and that there is a goal; a prize that won’t fade or diminish in value. Our prize is more than news for a day or two. The prize promised to us for our endurance will last for eternity. Our prize is worth contending for, worth times of difficulties, dangers and yes even agony. Like Jesus we should be willing to endure with our eyes on the prize that is before us.
One of my daughters was very involved in sports from a young age. In middle school she played basketball. Even at that age they trained hard and developed a deep sense of team camaraderie. They depended on each other and usually worked well together. One of them is very clear in my mind to this day. The score was close and those 12 year old girls were working hard in the 3rd quarter. One of the girls; my daughter’s best friend was open and got the ball. She started dribbling at a high rate of speed to the basket. Everyone was yelling; she thought they were cheering for her. She made the shot and the ball swished in perfectly. The problem? In her excitement she became confused and went to the opponents’ end. What she had mistaken for cheering was in reality a warning that she was going to the wrong basket. When she realized her error she stood there humiliated and began to cry. Everyone was silent. Then out of the bleachers came her big brother. He walked out onto the court, put his arm around her and led her away. He comforted her and she got back into the game for the last quarter. Her teammates forgave her and all was well.
That young girl had trained for many hours; she made the shot perfectly but was confused about her goal.
As women in ministry do we get caught up in the excitement of the game? Do we spend hours preparing to instruct others and then miss the mark ourselves? Like my daughter’s friend, are others “yelling” to warn us but we are so excited about the game that we don’t perceive it as a warning?
If you find yourself “making a basket” at the wrong end of the court there is hope. My daughter’s friend had a big brother to comfort her. We have a comforter too. He will calm us, mend our broken hearts, get us back in the game and point us to the right goal.
Once God points you to your goal keep your eyes focused. The world can be very distracting. There are so many things that can entice us. If we allow our focus to wander it can be confusing. I have days when I feel like Dug the dog from the movie Up. If you have seen the movie you know what I mean. Dug is trying his best then a squirrel catches his eye; he is distracted. Dug makes us laugh. But, like Dug we can be distracted even when we’re trying to do our best. That is a serious matter. Distractions can have eternal consequences.
How about you? Am I the only one who can be easily distracted at times? Give me your thoughts and tips on how you keep you eye on the prize before you.