On water stations and the value of Christ

When I was in high school I ran a 10k with my older sister and our aunt. Well, ran is a broad term here – our aunt ran the race (literally in circles around us) while my sister and I dragged ourselves from one water station to the next. For those unfamiliar with distance running, water stations are blessed little oases located in strategic spots along the race course where volunteers hand out small paper cups of water and Gatorade to passing runners. Our aunt, an experienced long distance runner, was well conditioned and focused on finishing the race. To her, the water stations were simply little stops on the way to the finish line. To us, each water station might as well have been the finish line. Whenever we, red-faced and gasping for sweet oxygen, made it to one station, every ounce of our being bore down on the task of getting to the next one.

That race seems to have been a microcosm of my life to date. Just like my sister and I focused only as far as the next water station, I find that I often look only as far forward as the next tangible milestone in my life. Just gotta graduate. Just gotta get a job. Just gotta get married. Just gotta have kids. Just gotta get a house. Just gotta, just gotta, just gotta. Things will be better once this or that is accomplished. Life will be complete. The race is finished at the next water station.

I find that I need to check myself more often than I want to admit and ask a question maybe everyone should ask: am I letting God’s gift of “real life” water stations distract me from the “real life” finish line of God himself? In Philippians 3:7-11, the apostle Paul said he considered everything to be trash compared to the value of knowing – truly knowing – Jesus Christ.

In Philippians 3:12-15 he goes on to say this: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s eyes were on the finish line of Christ, not on the passing water stations of life. Are mine? Are yours?

Until He returns,