Running to win is a good thing

God must like "it's not quite so simple" moments. He makes so many of them. I had another one today.

Saturday I quoted Ann Voskamp --
What you really wanted is to be extraordinarily, obviously, good at this. At this mothering thing. You wanted to be the best at this. You wanted to take the podium and gold medal in mothering — not take a million timeouts behind some locked bathroom door, turn on the water so no one hears you sobbing at what a mess this whole shebang is, and how you’d like to run away. 
This summed up what I feel so often -- I want to win the prize, to be the best, to be honored and acclaimed. Obviously pride -- I'm not the hero, God is. I should lay aside mydesire to be the center and graciously take my humble place wherever he puts me, acknowledging I need his help.

Then this morning I start thinking, "But wait. Doesn't Paul say we should run to win the prize?" I go looking and I find the reference, 1 Corinthians 9:24. What is he saying? In the beginning of the chapter he defends his rights as an apostle, and adds that even though he preaches the gospel without charge, he is not obligated to preach without charging. He is obligated to preach, but he supports himself preaching as a gift. Then he says although he is free, he makes himself a slave to many, to win as many as possible. He works hard at addressing different people in different ways to maximize his impact. This is when he says only one runner wins the prize, and we should be the one who runs to win.

"But wait, Paul," I want to say. "Haven't you read about the New Covenant, how our competency is not in ourselves but comes from God, how we have this treasure in earthen vessels, how our hope is not in ourselves but Christ in us?" Not only has Paul read that, he wrote that. So running to win the prize doesn't mean going back to us being the hero of our story. It has to mean training and working hard at recognizing God in us, highlighting the treasure, not the earthen vessel, reminding ourselves again and again we hope in him, not in ourselves.

So let us train and run in this course of honoring God in what he does in us and through us, celebrating what he has made of us and makes of us rather than who we are in ourselves.

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