Bible Studies Devotional By Susan Niswonger / a few months ago Share Tweet Pin Share The Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver a few weeks ago. I held my breath as snowboarders performed on the half-pipe. I groaned when Lindsey Vonn wiped out on the Giant Slalom and cheered the United States team as they scored to send the gold medal hockey game into overtime. The grace and beauty of Women’s Figure Skating is always a big draw and this year was no exception. I enjoyed watching the skating competition finals and was captured by the sparkling personality of gold-medalist Kim Yu-Na and the story of bronze-medalist Joannie Rochette, who skated despite losing her mother to cancer, the previous Monday. In my opinion, the most inspirational moment is the Medal Awards Ceremony. The top 3 finishers stand on platforms with the gold medal winner in the middle on the highest pedestal, the silver medalist stands on the right hand of the gold medalist and the bronze medal winner stands to the left. In turn, each winner bows his/her head as the medal is placed around their neck, then the gold medalist stands at attention as the national anthem of his/her country is played in their honor. With tear-filled eyes, the winner sings the words to his/her country’s song and then proudly raises a bouquet of flowers to acknowledge the accolades of the crowd. We are running a race in Life’s Olympics. It isn’t held just every four years but it is a lifelong pursuit. The motivating factor, as it is to the Olympians, is the promise of a prize. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul reminds us, “Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain.” Not only does Paul tell us there is a prize to claim but he instructs us that the prize cannot be obtained if you don’t enter, run and finish the race. There are many young people who watch the Olympics and dream of winning the gold medal but they will never stand on the platform to receive the prize. The reasons may include a lack of talent but for the most part it is a lack of discipline. We watch the “glory” of the Olympic Games and forget about the years of training, pain, failure, tears and frustration that each Olympian brings to the competition. Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 9:25 & 27, “And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things” and “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” Most Christians agree on the prize but have varying opinions when it comes to running the race. For some it is a mental assent and a verbal declaration; I believe in my heart and accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. This is a wonderful start but PLEASE DON’T STOP, you haven’t obtained the prize! An Olympic champion is not the person who watches the Olympics and states, “someday I want to win a gold medal!” Others declare that there must be true repentance (sacrificing the old life on the altar) and baptism to wash the old away and become a new creation in Christ. All biblical but PLEASE DON’T STOP, you are just entering the training facility! To win the prize, you have to continue the training as you continue your pursuit. Still others have embraced Peter’s message to the early church. On the Day of Pentecost, when asked, “What must we do to be saved?” Peter declared that Repentance was necessary, each participant must be baptized in the Name of Jesus and go on to receive the Holy Spirit. But PLEASE DON’T STOP, you are at the starting line and the race is about to begin. Remember, Paul says that you have to “run to obtain.” In Life’s Race, unlike the Olympic Games, everyone who finishes the race receives the prize. In my mind I can visualize Heaven’s Award Ceremony. What a day that will be when I stand on the pedestal of Heaven and bow my head as Jesus places, not a gold medal around my neck, but a “Crown of Righteousness” on my head. I’m sure tears of joy will spill over when I hear the angels begin to sing Heaven’s anthem. Then as all of Heaven cheers, I will cast my crown at the feet of my Savior in awe and worship. “I Can Only Imagine!” I began the race over 43 years ago. It hasn’t been the sprint I imagined but it has turned into a marathon. There have been moments when I thought the grassy expanse might be an easier way then the straight and narrow path. Many times I trip and fall, but with bruised legs and skinned knees, I keep pressing on. Voices from the crowd try to distract me, I grow weary dealing with the “cares of life” and sometimes, it seems I don’t have the strength to take another step, that’s when my training takes over. A still, small voice whispers, “You can make it, I am with you.” I get a “second wind,” the end is in sight and the prize is waiting. Paul sums up life’s race to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.