" Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."
--1 Corinthians 9:24-25
With Bugler's Dream and Olympic Fanfare echoing in our minds for the next three weeks, we get to rejoice with the victories and groan with the defeats of athletes who have been preparing for years. They train mind and body to win a coveted prize, to push themselves to greater extents and discipline themselves to persevere through injuries and setbacks. Sometimes when one falls I feel a sympathetic pain in my knee or chest, sharing the impact with them. And when one overcomes severe odds, I can't help but feel my heart soar as they fly down their course or through the air, expressing freedom, speed, and artistry in the unique ways of their specific disciplines.
We, too, are in training. I'm meditating on Psalm 119 this month as I prepare for a study, and the Psalmist so eloquently expresses the passion and discipline we need as we train for our forever crown. His heart is fixed on God and his word--he rejoices, delights, and sets his heart on God's laws. God's statutes are his counselors, and God's goodness to him is his very life. When he is sucker-punched by life, he doesn't wallow, but keeps his focus--he knows the One to run to, the One who gives him strength and preserves his life--the one who sets his heart free.
Daily he does the active exercise that training and discipline require: he seeks the Lord and hides his word in his heart. He considers, chooses, learns, obeys, follows, praises, recounts the Lord's ways. He runs in the path of the Lord. His soul is consumed with longing for God's laws.
Does life seem mundane? Don't forget, we are in training, and we serve an amazing Lord. Be enthralled with him again. Does life seem overwhelming? Fix your eyes on the one who preserves your life when you are "laid low in the dust." Remember the one who answers, strengthens, opens our eyes, gives us life, and sets our hearts free. In him we truly soar.