Time Out

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners.  Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”  This George Sheehan quote arrived in my e-mail inbox Monday.  Sheehan was an accomplished runner, writer, and doctor, and the arrival of his advice was timely.  Two days prior, two of my children had participated in their first cross country meet.  We talked before the meet about how celebrating the ability to run and giving your best are what matter.  Not ribbons or times.  They smiled and nodded, both secretly hoping for a ribbon.  Don’t we all?  A sunny morning graced our meet, and the temperature was perfect – cool enough for runners and warm enough for parents.  When it was over, one of my children held a ribbon; one did not.  But, neither gave in to the little voice inside coaxing them to quit.  They gave their all, and their bright red, sweaty faces showed on the outside what had been given from the inside.  They both beat the voice inside, and those victories are what I hold in my heart.

I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  Philippians 3:8

Throughout our life, a little voice will frequently tempt us to quit trying to follow God and take an easier route.  The enemy is cunning and smart.  He knows our weaknesses and will use them.  When we find success, feelings of self-sufficiency can cause us to rely more on ourselves than God.  Our humility and trust in Him become vulnerable to attack.  During struggles, when we’re low on courage and strength, the little voice will plant fear and doubt to destroy any hope we have left.  To divert our attention from God, he’ll entice us to “keep up” with society by racing toward wealth, power, popularity, and worldly accomplishments.  He’ll lure us into feelings of hatred toward a challenge that’s landed in our lap and drain us of courage and peace.  But, we know better.  Our competition isn’t others in the world or our challenges; it’s that little, dark internal voice.  And, eternal life with God is the prize for which we strive.  God looks beyond our worldly accomplishments and victories to our heart and soul to see whether we held our ground against the enemy.  Everyone likes to win, or at least place near the top.  Striving for a top honor encourages us to improve and inspires us.  But, the joy of a ribbon is temporary and shouldn’t define us.  The joy of allowing God to help us beat that little voice inside lasts forever.  It’s a victory above all others.

Dear God, please help us stand firm against the darkness in our life and keep our eyes on You, our ultimate prize.