Now this sport has a unique method of scoring. Only a team's first 5 runners to cross the finish line are counted for the team score. These are the runners whose names are recorded in the scorebooks and listed in the newspapers. But there are other runners on the teams who run just to finish (which is it's own accomplishment!). Some aspire to break into the top 5, but often, their goal is just to improve their performance time. These runners rarely, if ever, are counted in the team score. That is, unless there is a tie!! Then the judges look to see where the 6th man on each team placed.
So the league championship title depended upon our 6th man, Jon. As usual, he finished near the end of the entire race. But he finished just ahead of our rival team's 6th man!! A senior, Jon never received any public acclaim throughout his running career, but today, he was the hero!
As captain and 1st runner, my son, AJ, has had his name listed in the papers before. Today, he was quoted and had a whole paragraph, not for his own accomplishment but for the purpose of giving Jon the praise. This young man trained daily with his team. He ran a race to the best of his ability. He did it not for praise, but simply because it was what he was called to do. He never expected any reward other than the satisfaction of a job well done.
You and I run through our day, without any recognition most of the time. Yet if we are not distracted, if we keep our eye on the prize set before us, for a crown that will last forever, that is all the reward we need. One day, we will stand before the Judge who will say "Well done!"
1 Cor. 9:25-27 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.