One of the reasons I hated running as a kid was the fact that I was almost always last. Not only the shame of not winning, but being the final person to cross the line, really got to me. I don’t like to admit it, but I’m a fairly competitive person, and losing just wasn’t going to work for me. Quitting was much easier to do than lose, and I quit more things than I am proud of as a child because I wasn’t winning as much as I wanted to. So, this caused almost two decades of an unhealthy relationship with physical activity.
When I began running in my 20s, I was finishing races in the back of the pack. I understood there was no way for me to beat people who run 6 minute miles when I could barely run one mile without stopping to walk. Something shifted in my brain that allowed me to accept that getting out and running the race, even if I placed last, was far more of an accomplishment than not running at all.
Now, I will never be a podium finisher. I could spend all my days training and running and lifting and eating right, and I wouldn’t be able to do it. My body isn’t designed that way. I’m still usually placing in the last half, or last third. For transparency I will tell you that the half marathon I ran last weekend, I was in the last FIFTH. My times are improving at a glacial pace, but I have made it important to find joy in every mile and give it my all, no matter where I end up on the results sheet.
Jesus was very adamant about letting us know that our worldly accomplishments mean NOTHING in the scope of heaven. In Matthew 19:30, He tells us “But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
I don’t know about you, but this grace extended to the least of us gives me hope! See, in Heaven, we all get the same reward for running our race on earth. It doesn’t matter if we had the most successful business or spent our days supporting a family on $20,000. It doesn’t matter if we win every contest we enter or if we just get participation awards our whole whole lives. God doesn’t look at titles or trophies when we stand at Heaven’s gate. The only thing that gets us into Eternity with Him is following His Son.
Jesus makes us all the same. The idea that the only thing that truly matters in this life is furthering God’s kingdom and following His will is so freeing to me. While I truly believe we should strive to do our best in everything we set out to do for God’s glory alone, I take such comfort in the fact that my successes and my failures do not determine my place in Heaven. All He wants is a repentant heart.
Romans 3:23 reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is only by the blood of Jesus Christ that we are made clean in God’s eyes. I claim my victory ONLY in the cross. Any achievements are because of the cross.