Posted by: Arden Compton | January 18, 2015

Watch out for the carnival games!

Back when I was in high school I used to run the two mile race on the cross-country team. A two mile course was set up going through fields, up and down hills, around the school and back to where we began. I enjoyed running (still do), and worked real hard to improve my time a little bit every time I ran. Running long distance is mentally challenging, your body wants to stop long before the race is over. My legs would burn, my feet felt heavy, my lungs would be burning, everything inside of me would be demanding that I STOP! Well, almost everything inside of me, my mind would tell my body to keep running, push through the pain, you can do it! When I crossed the finish line I was completely exhausted, I gave everything I had and a little more to run my best.

Now let’s allow ourselves to be creative as I describe a fictional situation. Imagine that someone sets up a series of carnival attractions along the 2 mile course. You know the games where they try to get you to throw a ball or something to knock over some can and win a stuffed animal. Or maybe it is to throw a ping-pong ball into a cup. There are many, many of these types of games at carnivals and country fairs. I have personally never won anything at them, but I always see someone carrying around a stuffed animal and i wonder how they did it. Anyway, so someone sets up these carnival attractions along the race course. As I am running the course I am shocked as I pass the first one where the guy in the booth is yelling at me to come and play his game. Then I see another one. And then I run by someone selling cotton candy and hot dogs. “This is crazy!” I tell myself, there is no way I am stopping at any of these, I’ve got to beat last weeks time on this 2 mile course. I can’t afford to even hesitate at these carnival attractions. But much to my surprise I see someone drop out of the race to try his luck at one of these games. “What is he thinking?” I wonder as I press on. Then I look behind me and see several others that have stopped to try and win something. “How could that be? Did these guys forget we are in a race?”  Then I notice other people who aren’t in the race that wander over to the area and begin playing the games. They aren’t in the race, so why not?

This may sound crazy, but this is a metaphor for life. Our lives have purpose, there are important things for us to be doing. But if we aren’t careful, we can easily become distracted by the carnival games of life that only keep us from reaching our goals and achieving our full potential. It is important that we define where we are going in life, what our purpose is. Otherwise it is all to easy to waste our time, because we don’t realize what we are missing out on. It doesn’t seem to hurt to stop and watch a little porn, drink a little beer, or even just watch some T.V. But where are those activities taking us?  Do we know where we are heading? Are we moving forward with a purposeful plan?

It would be crazy to stop and play carnival games during a cross-country race, so don’t fall for it and miss out on your real life! In the New Testament the Apostle Paul spoke of running our race in life.

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

We need to run our race, and keep in mind our goal of an incorruptible crown in the kingdom of heaven. If we aren’t focused on where we are going, we could easily end up somewhere else.  Later in a letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul let’s us know that he had stayed on course in the race of life.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

That is my prayer and hope for you, that you finish YOUR course, do what YOU are meant to do. There are people you can help better than anyone else, there are things you are meant to do that should not be left for someone else. Stay the course, don’t be distracted by meaningless carnival games. You are meant to succeed! God sent you here to succeed. Get back up every time you fall and with God’s help you can have the confidence of Paul that there is laid for you a crown or righteousness!


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