Below is a copy of a daily devotion that I received from a former minister of my church. In many ways, at least once a day, Jim is still my minister. I love the way in this passage the marathon runner says it all: "I don't race, I run." That has long been my attitude toward distance running and now endurance cycling. I don't think I ever call the marathons or half marathons I enter "races." I know that I nearly always refer to them as runs. Read on. Be blessed...
Monday, April 21, 2008
Yearning for the Heavenly Reward
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be noticed by them because you then will receive no reward from your heavenly Father." - Matthew 6:1
Jesus speaks of them often - the heavenly rewards. But just what are those heavenly rewards? More stars in the crown? A bigger mansion in the life to come? More gold thread in one's heavenly robe? To begin with - I really don't know, I can only imagine. But I do believe that Jesus is trying to provide us a glimpse of a spiritual reality. There are things that we do for the praise of men and women. These ventures and endeavors can be good and worthy - they have their rewards. But there also are things that we do for the praise of only God. These ventures and endeavors are ones that prove to be satisfying in the fullness of the soul.
I know a fellow who is thoroughly devoted marathon runner. He runs twice daily, every day, for mile after mile. As far as I know in all these years of marathon running he has never won a race, he has never won a trophy. When the marathons are run, he is but one of hundreds that make up the crowd. He runs in the morning before the sun rises; he runs in the evening after the sn has gone down. Few see him run; even fewer know his name - yet he keeps running. If you ask him why he runs, his answer is simple. "When I run, I feel good about life and me." Some might say he is hooked on the endorphins that are triggered by his running and thus these feel good chemicals - well, make him feel good. And I wouldn't be surprised that if these folks are on the right track! You see, I believe that God even made the endorphins within us and God made them with a reason. Maybe ... they are but one of many heavenly rewards placed within our human souls - that come to life in the secret places of human experience.
Back to my running friend... One day when we were walking (my pace through life) I asked him if he was frustrated that he had never won a marathon. I caught him off guard, I do believe, for he stopped in his tracks. He turned, considered for a few long moments, and then said, "Jim, I don't race, I run."
Most folks today are so caught up in worrying about winning that they may have lost in the process the joy of running.
PRAYER FOCUS: Lord, help me to focus more on the applause of heaven than on the applause of the crowd ...
May the Gentle Grace of Christ be with you.