Today’s reading from Philippians begins with Paul using athletics as a metaphor for the Christian life. And if there is one thing that is true about athletes that excel, it’s that they are crystal clear about their goals, what they need to do to reach them, and when they expect to achieve them.
I know that is true, for example, from my experience with lifting weights. Not a workout goes by that I don’t have specific goals that I am pushing hard to accomplish. The same is true for runners, who are very clear about just how far they want to run and the amount of time they hope it will take them to do so. It is only in the context of setting and achieving goals that athletes are able to perform at their very best.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Paul speaks repeatedly of pressing on, of straining ahead, to achieve the goal to win the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. He speaks of having laser like focus on what it is we are pursuing.
Do we have that kind of clarity about what lies before us? Are we zeroed in on what we are pursuing as the focal point of our time and energy? Very specifically, in concrete terms, in a specified period of time, what will you do to run your race well? What will I?
If we can’t answer that question, then we are not living by faith. We are simply reacting to whatever life brings our way, heading towards wherever it is that life will --or will not--take us.