Thursday, August 18, 2011

In It to Win It

You’ve probably heard of the popular game show titled, “In It to Win It”. The gist of the show is to play a series of games that get more difficult as the stakes get higher, in hopes of winning the grand prize of a million dollars. The contestants have to weigh the odds before moving on to the next challenge, knowing they could lose the money they have accrued (until they get to a certain guaranteed level). The question is, do they want to take a risk and keep going, or do they stop and be content with what they have.

The rules of this game remind me of the Christian faith. Do we want to “play it safe” and stay at an infant level, keeping our salvation to ourselves (having just enough of Jesus to keep us out of hell, but not so much as to impact another life), or do we want to live a full, purposeful life – one that glorifies God and draws others to Him.

The Bible is full of biblical greats who were “in it to win it”. Paul suffered untold beatings and imprisonment for his faith, yet he wasn’t deterred. Instead, it seemed the more he was punished the more encouraged he was. Paul even gave us hints as to how to stay in the race, by “throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” He also added, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Another biblical great was Esther. She was confronted by Mordecai (her uncle who adopted her) to step out in faith, risking her life to save the Jewish people. Mordecai challenged her by asking:

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

For such a time as this…

Those six words have been forefront in my thoughts for months, as I prepare for my mission’s trip to Africa. Whenever a new fear would arise concerning the situation, I would hear those six confirming words and would instantly be filled with peace. Then, just last week, as the mission’s director distributed our team tee-shirts, chills ran up and down my spine as I read the theme at the bottom of our shirts, “For such a time as this.” More confirmation; I love the way God works.

After Esther decided to obey the mission God had for her, and before stepping out in faith, she also added another set of powerful words… “If I perish, I perish.” Esther had finally allowed her heart to be molded by God to the place where He could truly use her. In response, God gave her favor and not only spared her life, but lifted her to the position of queen. For me, the message is clear: 1) God orders our steps, 2) we are in a battle, and 3) the time is short.

Each one of us is in a race to share the gospel while there is still time. The heart attitude that God is searching for, and that pleases Him, is one where we are completely sold out to Him. Where our words and actions speak loudly that, “we are in it to win it; for such a time as this; and, if we perish, we perish”. To God be the glory!

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. 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 (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

In it to win it,
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