The goal is the prize but it’s not the finish line. In human terms, that may seem illogical, but it’s important to remember that God doesn’t operate on our human terms. Our “template” for the ultimate prize is revealed in the Christ.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me. . .
One of my favorite movies is Forrest Gump. At one point in the early part of the movie, he is chased by bullies and his little friend, Jenny, tells him to “run, Forrest, run.” And as he does run, the braces come off and he becomes stronger and stronger with each step. And soon, running becomes a testament or symbol of who he is and who he can be throughout the film.
Paul is telling us the same thing: to run, to run the race with perseverance, and to keep our eyes on the future, for tomorrow is full to the brim of prizes and surprises.
Part of running the race is developing a sensitivity to the paradoxes of life in Christ. In Christ’s universe, the tortoise can beat the hare, the weak can outlast the strong [II Cor 12:10], and the barren can have more children than the Duggars [Isaiah 54:1]. The rule of perfection is a different measurement. It all happens within.
Of course, my outside behaviors and decisions are imbued by the presence of the Holy Spirit, but the prize is not there. Like the voice of God that Elijah sought on the mountain, it was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in the stillness.
Life is not just a carousel where we strain to pluck the brass ring to get the prize. It’s a life in conjunction with the Holy Spirit who is perfection. [Matthew 5:48]
The goal/prize is captured in these loaded phrases: to live IN Christ, to live IS Christ, to be found IN Christ, and to know Christ.