For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 54

“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 Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:12-21

“She’ll never walk.”

Wilma Rudolph, the 20th of 22 children, born in 1940 to a poor, black family from the small town of Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee was diagnosed with Polio at the age of 5 and was disabled, forced to wear a leg brace for most of her childhood.  For two years, she would travel by bus with her Mother to receive medical treatment in Nashville, because no treatment was available for people of color in the town of Clarksville, where her family had moved.  By the time she was 12, she had regained the ability to walk without a brace and decided that walking wasn’t enough… she wanted to run!  So, she ran and she raced against any girl, or boy, who would accept her challenge.  In her first several organized races, she came in dead last.  Then, she came in second to last, and before long, she could not be beat.  At age 16, she made it onto the US Olympic Team that went to Melbourne, Australia, and four years later, she won 3 gold medals in the 100m and 200m and the 4x100m relay.  Rudolph set the world record for the 200m and was the first woman to win three gold medals.  Throughout the world, she became known as “The Tennessee Tornado,” “The Black Pearl” and “The Black Gazelle.”

Rudolph’s inspirational story is marked by incredible courage, resilience and perseverance. 

“The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.” 

Wilma Rudolph

She encapsulates the heart of what the Apostle Paul speaks to in this passage as he reminds believers to “press on towards the goal for the prize.” The pain of your past should never extinguish your passion for the prize.

But what is the prize? Is the prize a circular piece of gold attached to a ribbon? Worldwide notoriety and fame?  At the top of her career, even Rudolph acknowledged that her tremendous career success was somehow not enough.

“When I was going through my transition of being famous, I tried to ask God, why was I here? What was my purpose? Surely, it wasn’t just to win three gold medals. There has to be more to this life than that.” 

Wilma Rudolph

“Pressing on,” pursuing a “goal,” a “call,” a “prize,” with tremendous stamina, strength, focus and fervor is to be commended and admired.  All of that, however, if pursuing a lesser prize, one that will not last and will not satisfy the soul will eventually feel vain and empty.  Our prize is to know Jesus and to live our lives pursuing the goal of growing like Him.  Our call is to make Him known to a world trapped in sin.  

When you are down and discouraged… “Press on.”
When you are tired and exhausted… “Press on.”  
When you are plagued by remorse and regrets… “Press on.”  
When you get distracted or disillusioned… “Press on.”  
Endure… keep striving and straining, because Jesus never gave up for you, and in Jesus, you have all the resources to go one more day for Him.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

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