“You won!” The email from my friend arrived just after they’d made the announcement at the Gala Awards Ceremony in Toronto Canada.
I read the words again, not quite sure I comprehended them. I won? But … I knew my competition and that other writer was good. The excerpt I’d read of her book was very good. But I won? Wow!
I was not able to be at the awards ceremony this year – an annual event held to honour all Canadian writers who have been published in the past year. I look forward to attending the Gala each year, and Write Canada, the conference that coincides with it, eager to connect again with old friends and meet new ones. But circumstances did not allow me to fly to the other side of the country to attend this time so my friend had agreed to accept the award in my stead. Another friend delivered it to me a couple of weeks later – a check along with a crystal plaque engraved with my name, the date and category of the book, and that wonderful word, “Winner!” I admit my smile was wide as I held it in my hands.
We’ve all heard that expression, ‘winning isn’t everything’ but we all love to win, whether it’s an award from your peers as this was, an Olympic event witnessed by the world, or a simple game of cards. Some people just can’t bear to lose. We’ve seen some evidence of that from professional athletes who don’t act very professional when things don’t go their way. To them, winning the game, the prize, the glory, the money – that’s all that matters.
The apostle Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 9:24 when he says – “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.” Paul goes on to warn us that we must be careful to focus on the real prize – the one that will give us everything we could ever want and more. Unlike the prize awarded for winning a game or a race or a literary competition, this prize is beyond price.
The good news is that the prize of which Paul speaks is available to all of us. That prize is a gift from the hand of God, a gift, indeed, a prize, like no other. It is a prize that cleanses us from all unrighteousness and leads us to a life lived with Jesus, as his sibling, enjoying the inheritance of eternal life. The prize is called forgiveness.
So Paul says – “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 heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13)
Yes, we all love to win. But do we have our eyes on the real prize?