Today, I was notified that it’s the 3-year anniversary of this blog, Competing for His Glory.
I look back to where I was three years ago: I had just turned 21 and was in my junior year of college. None of the major accolades for softball had come yet, I hardly knew a professional softball league existed. I lived in a house with 11 girls and was recently engaged to Kevin. If I remember correctly, I still thought I wanted to be a sports broadcaster for ESPN.
And now: I am over halfway done with my second year of marriage. I am 24 and work in full-time ministry. I chose not to continue on with my softball career after one season in the professional league but have developed into a private softball coach. My best friends from college live across the nation. I also have a dog, Titan. I never thought I would have a dog, considering I am mildly allergic.
Yet there are a few circumstances that I thought would change and have stayed the same. For one, I am still living in Lawrence, Kansas. There was a time when I was ready to “get out” and truly considered Lawrence to be far from the place God would call me to settle down. Instead, Kevin and I are still ministering to college students at the University of Kansas through Young Life College, as we both have since 2010. As Kevin likes to say, “we have no exit strategy.” We are focusing on our mission and calling in Lawrence.
Kevin recently started a blog called “deadlifted.” It’s a very different than this blog, but has a similar heart. He writes about what he’s learning theologically and how to apply that practically. He’s been writing in it over the past month. As he shares with me his entries, I have also pondered about my own blog. I longed to write, but I had doubts. I’m not playing competitive softball. I’m not training for a triathlon. Am I still competing for His glory?
I recently finished reading through the book of Acts. If you are unfamiliar, Acts is a unique book in the Bible that documents the life of the early church after the resurrection of Christ. There is one apostle named Paul who is a straight-up stud. Jesus appears to this guy in resurrected form and, long story short, tells him that he has been chosen to preach the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles, to kings, and to all the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). He had up until this moment murdered Christians – so when the Lord revealed Himself to Paul, he was blindsided by His grace, love, and forgiveness. Paul traveled around preaching the gospel and enduring beatings, imprisonment, persecution, and ultimately death for the sake of carrying Christ’s Name. Throughout his ministry, he wrote many letters to early churches and that makes up the majority of what we call the New Testament today.
In one of those letters to the church of Corinth, Paul writes a very profound statement:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Paul was not an Olympic athlete, yet he makes a statement here that we are all competitors who train and discipline our bodies and minds for sanctification, the process of being made holy before God. I identify with this metaphor at the very core of who I am. This desire to seek after the ‘wreath imperishable’ – my eternity with Christ – drives everything I do.
As I surrender my own selfish desires continuously to Him, I am continuously competing. He replaces those thoughts with His desires. He rips down my idols and reminds me to put my full trust in Him. I assume that I will never know what the “next three years from now” look like as long as I continue on the path of seeking God’s glory instead of my own.
I am a competitor and that transcends every area of my life. When I look back to three years ago, while a lot has changed or hasn’t turned out as I supposed, one thing has stayed the same: I continue to compete for His glory. In my work, in my home, in my social life, and in my ministry, the one thing I do know is this: as long as I have a body and mind to discipline, the circumstances will change, yet this will remain. I will train for the prize.