Verse: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
I was with a good friend the other day and he was expressing how he wished he felt closer to God. We talked at length about how to cultivate a relationship with God. It's much like we cultivate any relationship. So much of our life is like having a good friend who is waiting to hang out with us, and we keep standing them up. God is excited to be with us every single day, but so often we just forget, or get distracted, or get too busy for him.
In these verses Paul isn't just talking about how to get closer to God, he's talking about how to resist temptation and sin. But the concept he brings up applies to everything. Can you imagine a professional athlete who never trained? I'm a huge Steph Curry fan. Imagine if he never worked out, ate terribly, and never worked on his shot. What would happen to his game? He's not the best shooter to ever play the game because he got lucky. He's the best shooter because he worked.
Have you ever seen pictures of him in college? People said he wouldn't make it because he was SO SKINNY. He had to work to bulk up, to get stronger, to get faster, AND to perfect his shot. He trained and made his body submit to his higher goals.
My advice to my friend was similar. If we want to be closer to God, we have to create space in our life for him! We have to create time each day to be with him, to pray and read our Bibles. If we want to be free from the power of sin, we need to grow in self control and say "no" to our desires that lead us astray.
The point I'm making is this: we can't just do nothing to cultivate our faith and expect to have a great outcome. So many people are upset with God for being distant, and I'm wondering, "is it God who is distant, or us?" When you read Paul's description of how he cultivates his faith, does that sound like you?
Help me to really lean in to growing my faith. I want more of you God, and I want to pursue you and find you!