My son recently finished up his track and field season, and it was a joy to attend his track meets and cheer him on in his events. In our vocabulary and understanding, when we talk about running a race, there is usually one clearly defined winner. The person who crosses the finish line first is crowned the champion. But consider some of the grueling endurance races where many of the contestants are not really competing to win, but are competing purely for personal achievement. Winning for them, is defined as enduring the long and arduous training regimen, and then celebrating by finishing the race and earning the medallion of completion as they cross the line. Paul says this is what our spiritual journey is like, a race, in which God is waiting at the finish line calling out to us, encouraging us to run the race with passion, integrity, and fortitude. It’s a challenging race, but well worth the prize, the crown of righteousness, awarded to all who complete the race, not just the first one to cross the line.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.