I searched the internet for instructions on how to become an Olympic athlete and discovered these steps (not necessarily in this order); training, self-discipline, sacrifice, concentration, training, rest, nutrition, training, commitment, finding sponsors. And oh, yes, did I mention training? All that training sounds a bit much for this old gal. Guess I’ll never have an Olympic medal hanging around my wrinkly neck. But that’s okay. I’m in a race where age doesn’t matter. I’m running for the incorruptible crown spoken about by Apostle Paul.
There are some similarities on the path to victory between an athlete and a Christian. Both need good nutrition. The athlete eats nutritious meals to strengthen the body and mind. Nutrition fortifies the human body so that it is better able to fight disease and injury. And wholesome meals also protect the mind from depression and many other mental disorders. The Christian’s nutrition comes from feeding on God’s Word to strengthen the soul (Deut. 8:3) so that one produces desirable fruit acceptable to God. The athlete studies the sport, particularly the movements of each player and the team strategies. Whereas the Christian studies Jesus’ life and with the wonderful aid of the Holy Spirit is able to imitate Christ. (Ps. 86:2; Eph. 1:4; Col 1:22; 1 Pet. 2:15) The athlete wears streamline clothing that hugs the body to reduce wind friction. The Christian’s outfit is a spiritual armour that protects against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11). The athlete often chooses a particular journey; laps around tracks, gliding over icy lanes, skiing on snowy paths and hills, maneuvering on courts, or swimming. The Christian walks the life path that sometimes winds through dark valleys and then climbs high into sunny mountain tops. (Ps. 119:105; Ps. 16:11).
Both the athlete and the Christian must exercise self-discipline and make sacrifices while traveling their chosen path. There may be times when both grow weary and wish to quit. But keeping their focus on their goal, they push forward. Often there are supporters and encouragers who cheer them on, reminding them of their successes, helping them to stay the course.
Paul wrote; “…run that you may obtain (the prize).” The Greek word for obtain is katalambano meaning to take eagerly. The winning athlete mounts the platform and eagerly takes the medal presented, waving and smiling at the cheering crowd. The Christian is also to take the prize eagerly. However, the major difference between the prizes is that the Christian’s prize is incorruptible. And we are victorious even before reaching the end of the race for we have Christ living within us. Our victory is not short-lived as the athlete’s but eternal. Praises be to our Lord and Saviour. What a race! What victory!