1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
For the majority of my life, I have exercised. There have been seasons when I have exercised more than others or more consistently. I have used a variety of workout methods: running, walking, classes, DVD’s, etc. I exercise because I know it is good for my body. It’s a way to care for my temple. Honestly, exercise is often a struggle for me. Too often, I procrastinate and exercise ends up at the day’s end. When I’m tired, the last thing I want to do is lace up my running shoes.
When Rick was able to run, he loved it. He got a “runner’s high,” a release of endorphins that often accompanies exercise. He felt energized for the rest of the day and said running gave energy. For me, not so much. Most often, it is grueling to get through a run. While exercising, I question why I’m doing this.
When Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth, he knew they were very familiar with the Greek Olympic Games. This was a huge annual sporting event. Winning athletes were superstars. For their accomplishments, winners received wreaths of olive leaves and jars of olive oil.
Paul wants Christians to remember the olive leaves these athletes received lived just for a little while. They wilted and died. When people run the race as a disciple of Christ, we too receive a crown. This crown is one that lasts for all of eternity. Which crown do you prefer?
Christians do not have to be superstar athletes. We don’t have to be super athletes. One way we care for our temples is to keep active through exercise.
While I seldom get an endorphin rush when I exercise, I often experience a clearing of the mind. I can stop all the business in my brain. When I exercise outside, I often connect my spiritual and physical lives by praying. I often will go for a run when I need to sort through a decision or brainstorm. Becoming clearer about a situation gives me energy.
I admire great athletes because I will never be one. This is not given me permission to stop caring for my body. Even if you feel limited physically, you can do things to care for your body. The last few months, my mother-in-law has committed to a regular physical therapy program. I have watched her get stronger and more able to do things. In turn, this has raised her spirits. Her improvements may seem marginal but for her they are significant. It inspires me to keep active and run after the eternal crown waiting for me.
We chase many things in this world. Lord God, inspire us to chase the right thing: your eternal crown. As a way of showing respect for the body you have given me, may I treat it well. Inspire me to care for my body, no matter what my physical level may be. Amen.
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