Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Thanksgiving morning, I woke early to stretch. At 5:07 AM you would have found me in the living room, Bible on the floor, with my legs sunken deeply in a runner’s lunge. Reading over Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians, I reminded myself that I don’t race to just run. I race to win.
And let me tell you, if there was ever a race I wanted to obtain the prize it is the Thanksgiving Day, Hot to Trot 10K. Oh yes. Hashtag – best race prize EVER.
And no it isn’t a cash prize. Or a gift card.
It’s much better.
This Thanksgiving, I ran for a mug.
Yes, you read that right.
Hand-sculpted pottery. A no-two-are-alike-big-deep-colorful-swim-around-in-your-coffee mug.
And where else can you find these little unique treasures? Nowhere.
You must race for them and win.
And I was setting out for one.
So thanksgiving morning, I spread my wings extra early to pump myself up for the Hot to Trot.
A little pre-run water. Jesus. Energy bar. Stretching. And coffee.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been in much better shape. The last I shared, I told you that my health had given me a fit and I had taken some very intentional time off. Well that meant from everything – exercise included. But now feeling better, I really had no idea how this race would flesh out.
Would I be slower than Christmas? Would I honey-bake my hamstrings trying to pull out 6 miles? Who knew? It was all a mystery.
Until 7:30. There I stood, freezing my feathers in the middle of a crowd full of other crazy people. Hopping up and down to stay warm on an overcast and 45 Thanksgiving day. My head phones were in place – Michael Buble ready to sing me into the Christmas season. Mittens secure. GPS watch set. My every muscle waiting on the gunfire.
And off it went. The pop of that little pistol sending all 2500 of us little turkeys off to runnin’.
Some ran for fun. Some ran for time.
I ran for that mug.
About a half mile in, I knew I needed to look at my watch. I needed to gauge my speed. I needed to know.
So with a pit in my tummy I glanced down. And there it was…. my pace. Gasp. My pace!! IT WAS GOOD. Eeeeee!!!
(Good for me, anyway.)
Energized by my current time and exhorted by Paul’s words, I ran even harder. Working hard to obtain that prize.
Paul thought like an athlete. He was single-minded. A goal-setter. And Paul’s goal was simple – to bring as many people as possible to faith in the Gospel of Jesus.
And just as an athlete goes through physical training that is sometimes uncomfortable in order to attain the goal of victory, so Paul was willing to endure both physical and emotional hardship for the Gospel’s achievement.
Running – a beautiful parallel.
About three miles in and several Christmas songs later, I heard the Lord whisper to me… His still small voice in my goal-driven soul.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23 You run for Me, Becky. Not for mugs.
(And as sweet as it was for Him to remind me of this Truth, I was a little nervous He was bracing me for a mug-less ride home.)
Either way, I ran as hard as my turkey legs would carry me. Me and Jesus, hot to trot on this Thanksgiving Day.
At the finish line I was thrilled with my time!! Very pleased in light of my little break the past three months. But I still wasn’t sure if my time was mug worthy.
Work heartily, as for the Lord and not for mugs….
And that is the cry of my heart. From my sixth place spot on the age division board. Sigh.
Seconds matter on the race trail. Every millisecond counts. And mine were too short.
And I am reminded that seconds matter in this race we call life, all the more. Every place we set our foot we are hot to trot ambassadors, just like Paul, enduring hardships for the Gospel’s advancement.
Because we all can’t drink out of clay mugs, but we are all invited to drink from the fountain that never runs dry. Jesus.
The Lord himself is my inheritance, my prize. He is my portion and my cup, my highest joy! He guards all that is mine. Psalm 16:5 ESV & LB
So next year I will run again, by George. Still working towards that mug. But until then, I sip my coffee in peace and take the cup of my salvation, calling on the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:13). For in Christ we all win! In Him, we all obtain an imperishable prize. One that will never fade or be taken away.