I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God\’s grace – Acts 20:24 NIV

Many (many, many!) years ago, I attended a cheerleading camp. All week long, we practiced our cheers and choreographed our steps. At the end of the competition, the best squad won a trophy. Another competition went on simultaneously. Whoever won that one received the coveted ‘Spirit Stick.” After all, what would any self-respecting cheerleader be without that school spirit?

The competition escalated as we neared the final ceremony. Many of the girls thrived on the tension. Not me. I turned into a nervous wreck. I\’m the type of person who throws in her cards when the competition heats up, or backs off when confronted with an overzealous opponent. My stomach quivers at the thought of such rivalry.

The apostle Paul, obviously well acquainted with competition, referred to winning quite often. In 1 Corinthians 9:23-24 (NIV), Paul said, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Paul encouraged us to run to win. What do we win? He goes on to say in verse 25, “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.”

When I feel overwhelmed by an opponent, I might mutter, “It\’s only a game” or “I don\’t care about winning that much.”

But when we\’re talking about eternity, I do care, and I do want to win – souls for the Lord, and the battle against Satan. And one day a crown of life. In order to win, we must aggressively pursue a relationship with God, our Father, and be willing to stay in strict training as we pursue His will.

I\’ve stepped out of my comfort zone in the past few months to promote my writing. I\’m not adverse to hard work, researching the market, and writing till my fingers ache. I don\’t want to come across as so humble that I don\’t praise the Lord for what He\’s done through me. For every article published, for every heart touched, for every person encouraged, I give God the glory. I\’m thrilled He will use me.

If God wants me to do cartwheels (oh, I hurt at just the thought of it!) across a platform, I\’d do it – even though at this point, it would mean enthusiastically promoting my latest project – my mid-life version of a cartwheel. I\’m thankful that, instead of a ‘Spirit Stick,” I have the Holy Spirit to help me, to prod me on, to encourage, and empower me.

At times, I feel like my no-compete clause has caused me to retreat. I\’m defeating that tendency with God\’s help. In the Christian race, we don\’t compete against each other. When we work together in unity as a team to tell others of Jesus\’ love, we all win. Keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly calling of God. Are you in the running?

My cheerleading squad may not have won the ‘Spirit Stick\’ but I did end up getting a trophy one year for being the “Best All-Round Cheerleader.” Now I\’m afraid I might just win one for being round.

Oh, and just for old time\’s sake: Go, Christian, go!

Prayer: God, I thank You for the promise of a crown of life. I ask for strength to persevere, and the wisdom to do Your will. In Jesus\’ Name I pray, Amen.

Children's author and inspirational writer, Donna J. Shepherd, looks at everyday life and finds God's fingerprints everywhere. From bird watching to the Beatitudes, Donna's writing touches the heart with wisdom and humor while feeding the mind with daily portions of God's Word. She is currently a columnist for The Dabbling Mum and a staff poet for The Inspiration Station. Her articles and poetry have appeared in Reminisce Extra, Just Between Us, Guideposts for Kids, Penwomanship, Sisters in the Lord, and many more. Her devotionals appear in Daily Grace for Women, Devotional Reflections to Nourish Your Soul (Honor Books), and Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms (Warner Books).