Running For Gold

No. 47 - 13th August 2017

For a whole year, the Botswanan athlete, Isaac Makwala, had been training for the four hundred meters, World Championship race in London this week. He was almost certain of winning a medal if not the Gold medal itself. I don’t think I have any idea how much hard work and dedication goes into training for a race like that. Day after day with nothing else in your mind but a vision of crossing that line ahead of everyone else. What a challenge. Training for it is an absolutely gruelling process that works on the mind and the body and the emotions. And all of it aiming to peak on the day of the big race.

I suspect that if we treated life like that, we’d be very different people. We tend to look at our weaknesses and think, “that’s just how I am. I can’t do anything about it”. Well, how far do you think Makwala would have got with that sort of attitude. If he had thought like that, he would never have become the champion that he did, earlier this year in Madrid. Because the best is only achieved by commitment and hard work. In life, being righteous or good doesn’t come naturally. It comes through discipline and determination. And like a coach or a personal trainer, the Spirit of God can come into a person’s life to encourage them and motivate them to change, and empower them to achieve a higher, better life. We tend to look at the saints and think “I could never be like that”. But here’s what one of them said. This is St Paul. “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified”.

Can you imagine, when the day of the race finally arrived and a medical examination showed that Isaac Makwala had a virus that put him into quarantine and disqualified him from running the race. All that suffering and dedication came to nothing. All the pent up tension just burst like a bubble. It was devastating. Everything he’d lived for, just disappeared in an instant. Well, like St Paul, I really don’t want my life to end like that.

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