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Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Crown

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."  (C. S. Lewis)  I have frequently commented about each of us having an "aim" or "purpose" in this life - without one we are kind of set adrift without any real destination in mind. As Lewis said, when our aim is correct, we realize blessings beyond our imagining - when it is limited by what we can see in the natural sense, we might just not ever be able to enjoy all the things God wants us to experience. If I were to ask you what God wants you to experience today, what might you answer? If you could not really answer that, or you gave some "cookbook" kind of answer, you might just want to take a few moments to reconsider your aim - maybe it isn't high enough!

We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize! Athletes in training are very strict with themselves, exercising self-control over desires, and for what? For a wreath that soon withers or is crushed or simply forgotten. That is not our race. We run for the crown that we will wear for eternity.  So I don’t run aimlessly. I don’t let my eyes drift off the finish line. When I box, I don’t throw punches in the air. I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after all this, after I have brought the gospel to others, I will still be qualified to win the prize. (I Corinthians 9:24-27 VOICE)

Are you a runner who bolts for the finish line, eager to get there, one prize in mind? I used to be that way - kind of headstrong and determined to get things done. I am not so much that way any longer - sometimes I need to step back and take in what is happening around me more than I need to make it across whatever "finish line" I have imposed. Far too many of us have our eyes set on earthly goals, all the while neglecting or forgetting the heavenly goals God has for each of us. Yes, God wants us to have an aim, but I don't think he wants these earthly aims to consume us to the point we neglect relationship with him or others. The most profound portion of this passage is the very last statement: "I will still be qualified to win the prize." In running, we can attain all kinds of prizes along the way. In making it across the finish line, we can win but one prize - the prize of having crossed the end point well.  

Unlike earthly races in which one wins and all others just "place" somewhere in the list of those who "finish", all of us will cross the finish line with Christ - all of us "winners" of the crown. As we run, our focus determines our drive - without a focus for the right goal, we can find ourselves stopping short of where God wants us to be. Lewis also said, " If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."  What is it that causes you to hunger or thirst? If it is something that things in this world can satisfy, might I suggest your hunger (and mine) is just not created by the right focus or aim.  When we find satisfaction in the things of this world, we are limiting the supreme satisfaction which God has prepared for us in his! Just sayin!