I just love the Winter Olympics! I love to watch the skiing, the figure skating, and the curling. For me the Winter Olympics is an art form. To see people compete in such an artistic way or using such nuanced skill is delightful.
However, it is still a competition. These athletes train hard and strive toward the chance to win a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal. Some of them have trained their whole lives for this one moment at greatness! They have struggled, sacrificed, and suffered to get where they are today.
Saint Paul speaks of our Christian life in terms most athletes can relate to: “Do you not know that, of those who run in a race, all of them, certainly, are runners, but only one achieves the prize. Similarly, you must run, so that you may achieve. And one who competes in a contest abstains from all things. And they do this, of course, so that they may achieve a corruptible crown. But we do this, so that we may achieve what is incorruptible. And so I run, but not with uncertainty. And so I fight, but not by flailing in the air. Instead, I chastise my body, so as to redirect it into servitude. Otherwise, I might preach to others, but become myself an outcast.” (I Corinthians 9:24-27 CPDV)
Paul urges us to continue running the race toward a goal that never corrupts or looses value. That goal is an eternity with God! Paul also reminds us that this race will involve sacrifice and require endurance in the face of adversity. However, the reward is worth every bit of what we must do to attain it!
Saint Paul also warned Saint Timothy that we must compete according to the rules as well. “Then, too, whoever strives in a competition is not crowned, unless he has competed lawfully.” (2 Timothy 2:5 CPDV) We cannot cheat our way into heaven. Our spiritual life is a process and through that process we learn about who we are and what God expects of us. We have to be willing to submit to God’s plan for our lives in order to find true peace and happiness.
And even though the process may be difficult and the race long, we are not left alone to run. “Furthermore, since we also have so great a cloud of witnesses over us, let us set aside every burden and sin which may surround us, and advance, through patience, to the struggle offered to us.” (Hebrews 12:1 CPDV)
We have the great knowledge that all those who ran the race before us are there cheering us on! They are those who uniquely know the struggles we face and are there to help us with their example and prayers. This is the great Communion of Saints that we can turn to for help. We need only ask for their prayers and support and we have it!
So let us keep on keeping on!