By Marieanne Rose

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.
1 Corinthians 9:24

I had – long ago – removed myself from the competitive thing, yet there are curious moments when that desire to compete rises in my heart! As a child, I remember giving sports my all and frequently finding that my “all” wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t just poor at it, but consistently I was the last person to cross that finish line.

At some point in my childhood, I accepted the fact that poor motor co-ordination was a major stumbling block to success in athletics. And – I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t stand any chance of winning, or even placing, why should I bother trying.

It was surely less painful for me to watch others compete, than to experience failure myself…so I chose to encourage them in their victories and withdrew my name from the list of competitors.

Then my friend, Phili, started with the running thing. She said God called her to do it. I just couldn’t relate to what she was saying – it didn’t compute with my life’s experiences – but I love Phili! So, I smiled and said I was happy for her – and I was!

Why wouldn’t I be? So she continues to run – receives fulfillment from it – has a personal trainer to help her – enjoys her husband, Mike’s support – and is getting better at it. That’s a good thing – at least, for her!

I Corinthians 9:24 is a great Scripture for Phili, but I never embraced it or even considered it for me. It’s one of those verses in the Bible that are meant for other people…people who are gifted athletically… people who have known success…people with strong determination…people who can press past initial failures into incremental successes. Yup, people like my friend, Phili.

I Corinthians 9:24 is a great Scripture for Phili, but I never embraced it or even considered it for me.

Sunday in Bible Class, I quietly wondered if – all those years ago – I hadn’t sold myself short. I secretly considered the possibility that God might be big enough and mighty enough to take this 74 year old “not inclined to compete for fear of failure” senior and get her back on track. Is God big enough to use me even though I fail and fall down so often?

I had to smile as I imagined what form courage and determination would look like at my age. How would this new perseverance to run the race materialize as the unwillingness to step into places where I feel ill prepared or equipped come about in my life?  And what does it look like knowing He will provide what I need, encourage me in my fears, and laugh with me when I fall on my face?

I will confess that my initial thoughts were met with resistance, but that soon melted into a call to trust God and press on. Pray for God to help me as I begin this new response to Him!