It was sort of a hollow victory, and I’m not particularly proud of how it all went down; but there was something in me that told me I had to run. In ninth grade I was one of the youngest in the church youth group. The high school boys and young adult men were usually good mentors. They taught me a wicked overhand volleyball serve, but I wasn’t particularly athletic and certainly not up to their par.
We were at a retreat. Part of our afternoons involved a variety of competitive events all of which I lost to their age and better performance. So when the cross country race–the one event in which I thought I might have a chance at an award–was cancelled at the last minute, I almost took it as a personal affront. That’s when the voice within, admittedly anger driven, told me to just run. And run I did. I wasn’t going to let them cancel “my” event. I don’t regret the running. What wasn’t too pretty was the stink I put up before setting off on my own to run. In the end I was given second place on an estimated time since the powers that be ran the race after all guessing at the time I likely had set off after my temper tantrum.
I chuckle now that this day comes back to my mind when I consider the passion with which Pastor Paul lived his life and the goal for which he so adamantly strived. The zeal of his pre-Christ life was very strong. He was a promising young man, the future lawyer any Jewish mom would be proud of. But all that he had, all the promise, all the likelihood that he would be among the most powerful men in Israel, he gave up for a new goal. He gave it all up to serve Jesus, and to live Jesus, and to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ.”
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ.