In my family growing up we played a lot of games, board games like Chess and Monopoly, challenge activities like who can make the biggest cannonball splash, keep a hula hoop going the longest, hold their breath the longest underwater, and then sports like basketball, swimming, tennis, track, and field, etc. This continued with our children and grandchildren
and we couldn’t count how many soccer games, tennis matches, and wrestling events we attended to cheer them on. Even now we play family games of Pickleball and every holiday meal at our home isn’t complete until we play Round the World Ping Pong. Consequently, we are a pretty competitive group but it is more than that; there is always great love, encouragement, loyalty, challenge, and much laughter! It is not about winning!

In the Bible God often uses athletic images to encourage us on our journeys! In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, we are told to run to get the prize, a crown that will last forever and to discipline ourselves. In Hebrews 12:1, God tells us to throw off that which hinders us and run with perseverance the race marked out for us. In our race we are told not to fix our eyes on the finish tape, but in Hebrews 12:2 to fix our eyes on Jesus! When I used to run track, I was always told to look beyond the finish line and to surge through it. This is certainly a metaphor for how believers should run! In John 3, we get a little glimpse of some loyalty-based competitiveness in verse 26. John the Baptist’s disciples came to him complaining everyone was now going to Jesus to be baptized. While some of John’s disciples had followed Jesus, clearly others were not committed to the One John had testified about. They longed for the days when everyone had thronged to John. But John fixed his eyes on Jesus, joyfully and willingly accepting God’s plan saying in verse 30, “He must become greater; I must become less.” It was not about winning!

There is a wonderful organization called Play as One based on the love of God for all people. They teach a new way to play with a bigger focus rather than winning, it is on reaching the hearts of children and families through athletics. It is a remarkable growing program and it is not just about winning! Look them up at, you will be blessed. At the end of our lives here on earth, may we be able to say as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also all who have longed for his appearing.” The prize isn’t just for one person but is available to all based on how we have run the race, not where we placed! It’s not about winning!
Meditation: Read slowly through 2 Timothy 4:7-8 and consider what God might put on your heart about your place in the race.

Francie Overstreet

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