24 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. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
This week Rose and I attended our grandkids’ end of school award ceremonies. Every kid gets something; even if it’s just a certificate of participation. Our guys are pretty good students and we were proud of their awards.
It got me thinking about heavenly crowns. When it’s all over, I sure would like more than a certificate of participation. Yet I don’t feel like I’m earning crowns. I’ve had an interesting year. Lots of strange things have happened and are happening. I just don’t know if they qualify as “crowning” events.
A couple of nights ago I awoke at 2 a.m. Among the things I did was listen to a sermon from our church website. I just picked one at random. It was called “The New You.” It had been preached back in January. It was about being a new creation, and picking up our cross. Pastor discussed some of the extraordinary things that happened to the disciples after the close of the Book of Acts. Only John died a non-violent death. I can see some crown winning activity there.
If you follow church news throughout the world, you can’t miss the fact that many are earning crowns, through the suffering of persecutions and trials. It’s starting to get a bit uncomfortable to be a Christian in this country. I wonder what it will be like by the time those grand kids are grown.
When listening to a sermon from the church website didn’t put me back to sleep, I listened to David Jeremiah. He’s been preaching on the end times. Things are really going to get worse before they get better. I believe before too long, learning earning a crown will be just part of being a Christian.
Maybe in the meantime our crowns are earned by how we handle the trials that do come. “Taking up your cross” has to mean handling what comes, no matter how “ordinary” or how “dramatic.”
Even around us some are suffering for taking a stand and just doing what they are called to do. I suppose handling the trials we have will prepare us for the ones to come.