A Higher Playing Level – A Greater Prize

The world presents to us a task or a purpose. It says to compete, to strive, to get ahead, to earn the promotion at work, to have better clothes, to have a nicer house. In sports the goal is always to win the game, the league, the tournament. We compete to get onto the AAA, Premiership, varsity teams or even provincial, national or Olympic and pro teams. We strive for this because the world says this is the top competitive level. What if there’s a higher level of playing. What if there is a level of playing that transcends all of this. What if this level of play takes our performance to such heights that the world struggles or refuses to understand because it’s beyond what they can comprehend. I’ve witnessed and actually had these types of performances in competition. For athletes who have found this “sweet spot”, not only do they play with joy, maturity and perspective despite the pressure and level of competition, but it crosses over into their everyday lives and there is a richness about them.

It is said that our life is a marathon, not a sprint. It seems that all these games, leagues and tournaments are a bunch of short-term sprints. So where is the marathon? What does that look like? What does that mean? How do we find it? What if the marathon is our entire life which began when we were born and it ends when our bodies die.

The Bible says that we should run the race, or press on toward the goal to win the prize. Tournaments and league championships offer a prize in the form of a trophy and/or medal. Personally I’ve won a lot of trophies and medals. In fact I’ve won a National championship. Most of my trophies are now broken and tarnished. The ribbons on the medals are stained and crumpled and I can’t even remember when or where I won them. There must be a bigger prize, a greater purpose worthy of our pursuit.

The world says that winning a championship makes you successful and it determines all others as lesser people, perhaps even failures through their inability to win. Interesting that unless one wins every single time out, one would technically be determined a successful person one season but a failure the next. First of all it doesn’t make much sense and doesn’t seem wise, but most of all when you stand back and look at it over the long haul it appears that we are simply running in circles chasing our own tails. Seems kind of foolish.

What if we stood back even further and took an even larger view at the picture – the marathon. I believe that God is inviting us all to play at the highest level and at that level the prize is something that can’t tarnish or break. The prize is much greater, much more rewarding to receive, provides benefits that enhance your life like nothing else can, and most of all will last longer than your lifetime. Take a minute on that last one. What if the prize was something that will be with you both here on earth AND after you die.

At this higher level of play the game looks like this. The goal is to love others. A pass is handing off love to another. Dribbling or carrying the ball is living out your life in a way that represents God. Taking a shot is telling someone this Good News. And God is the referee or judge and he is smiling saying, “Well done good and faithful servant”.

The Bible says, “I press on to the goal, to win the prize, for which God has called me heavenward”. At the end of our days on earth, the prize is when we get to heaven. If we are a believer, not only will we get the prize of eternal life but we’re rewarded for faithful and fruitful living.

So now you choose. You get to choose to compete just at AAA, varsity, provincial level or you can choose to also play on God’s level which is above all that. Even if you’re playing house league, beer league or masters division, you can use that as a vehicle to play in God’s league. Keep in mind that these leagues that the world offers are short-term sprints and God’s playing field offers you the marathon in which we get the greater eternal prize.