Eyes on the Prize

My daughter’s field day at school is fast approaching and needless to say, she’s getting pretty excited.  Being tall and thin like her mommy and daddy, our daughter is very good at all of the running events.  Her long legs and stride help her to run efficiently so she’s excited to have a chance to win some of the sprinting events.  Even at the age of 40, I’m a pretty fast runner myself, so I decided to show her a few pointers.  One of those is where her focus should be when she runs.

Now, I know everyone has probably seen Olympic sprinters on t.v. looking around at their competitors or taunting them when winning a race, but running with the finish line in sight is the most efficient way to run a sprint.  I told my daughter that if she wants to run her fastest, don’t look at the person next to her.  Don’t worry about how far of a lead you have.  Instead, look straight ahead at the finish line.  Keep your eyes on the prize.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve spent a lot of time writing and thinking about Heaven.  After reading the descriptions of what our eternity in Heaven will be like in the Bible, it’s easy to have Heaven as our primary focus.  In fact, there’s nothing inherently wrong to be a Christian looking forward to the glories of Heaven (1 Corinthians 9:24).  There’s nothing wrong with longing for a place that God most definitely put into our heart, but I don’t believe it should be our primary focus.

As an educator, I work with kids every day trying to teach them different reading strategies so they can become better readers.  Although there are many things in my day that demand attention and although preparing for our state test is a key component of the school year, my true focus should be on the growth of my students and their academic success, not just clocking in and drawing a paycheck.  Likewise, if as Christians, we only focus on the rewards, on things like Heaven, I believe we’re missing the real meaning of being a disciple.  To be a true follower of Christ means we keep our focus on him.  He is the ultimate prize!

A religious life based on rule following and a misplaced focus on rewards and what God can do for us is not Christianity in the real sense of the word.  There’s no doubt that our salvation is a wonderful gift.  There’s no doubt that Heaven will be far greater than we could ever dream or imagine.  But true Christianity is more about the intimate relationship we get to have with our Creator than with anything else.  Just being in the presence of God is all the reward we really need.  And you know what?  We already have that reward (Galatians 2:20-21, Ephesians 3:16-17)!

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

(Philippians 3:7-11)

Keep looking forward to the greatness of Heaven but remember that it’s the presence of God that makes it great.  Make sure to keep your eyes on the prize… the right prize!

-Joe

 

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4 thoughts on “Eyes on the Prize

  1. You have said this so beautifully. I’d like to share it on my site, if that’s ok. Thanks for posting this. It really spoke to me today and I pray it will speak to others as well. I prayed for you today. May you and your students have a great end of year.

    1. Joe Butler

      Thank you for your prayers and for reposting. It’s been a good school year so far so hopefully it will finish up well.

  2. Pingback: This is really good… | alighttomyway

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