I read this passage again this morning in the Easy to Read version and I saw a couple of things that really hadn't dawned on me before. While not every translation puts the original intent perfectly, there is some validity to just looking at the passage from a different perspective once in a while as it can bring things to light you may not have seen in quite that perspective before! Here's what I saw:
- The prize is already ours! We are running a race that is already pre-determined to have us as winners - to gain the prize, we just keep running. I think there are a whole lot of us that have the idea we run to attain - but we really run because it is already ours.
- We are called, so we should live up to our calling! Through Christ Jesus, we are called. In him, we have a new purpose and destiny. We are destined to live life, not just here on this earth, but in heaven. We are called to life up there - so maybe we need to adjust our focus a little higher at times - because too "low" of a focus may limit what we see!
- There is a finish line! At times, we might think this will never end, especially when the journey gets really, really hard. We don't want it to last too much longer, but there is a pre-determined finish line already clearly marked out by our loving heavenly Father. We just need to keep making progress toward the finish line.
- We don't have to run at full-out speed all the time, but we are asked to keep running! There is such a thing as pacing yourself for the journey ahead - to run too fast, too quickly may make it harder to actually finish. We need to speed up when there is energy, slow down to regroup energy, and then pick it up again when that energy is renewed. God is always going to provide for our renewal, but we need to be running in order to be in a position for those "rest stations" along the way.
The rest of the story is also helpful in order to understand why we run and what we are running toward:
12 I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. (My thoughts: I don't think any of us is there yet, but we can move together toward that goal!) I have not yet reached that goal (My thoughts: Nor have you). But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine (My thoughts: We don't choose the prize - it is chosen for us - but we do run in such a way that we "make it ours"). That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. (My thoughts: We don't belong to ourselves - we are bought with a price and now we belong to him.) 13 Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. (My thoughts: You can help me focus on the finish line - but you must be there alongside me in order to do that. You're running this with me - not against me! We are all winners! We all receive the prize!)