Have you ever wondered what possible similarity could exist between Mario Andretti, Wladziu Valentino Liberace, Luciano Pavarotti, and Michael Phelps? No?? I didn’t think so. My brain is obviously a little twisted to even contemplate including these four individuals in the same sentence. But seriously, what could a famous race car driver, concert pianist extraordinaire, Italian operatic tenor, and world-record-shattering Olympian gold medalist have in common? Well, simply put, they are incredible achievers.
We all know people who idolize the successes of others. One says, “I wish I could drive like Andretti.” Another person comments, “I wish I could tickle the ivories like Liberace (but without all the jewelry).” Still another one states, “I would give my right arm to be able to sing like Pavarotti.” And yet another, “I would love to be able to experience the rush of breaking world records and achieving world-wide fame like Phelps. The truth of the matter is that we all have people we admire like that.
The fact is that their successes did not come easy. These men had to be totally sold out to their missions. Whether they felt like it or not, whether there were other things they would rather be doing, their priority was to be the best at what they do. They knew that the price attached to that success was huge and would come with great sacrifice. However, they dared to risk all for the goal on the other side of the pain and sacrifice. And for each of them, they won the prize.
I am sure that if we took an honest self-inventory, we would see that the reason we have not achieved what our “admirees” have is largely because we prioritize other things as more important, or – for a variety of reasons – lack the motivation to make the necessary sacrifices that are needed to succeed in the same way. Maybe the spirit’s willing, but the flesh is weak.
On a spiritual note, I find it interesting that this is true even in the church at large. Many people in general desire to possess the joys and benefits that mighty men and women of God have achieved in their lives. We want the peace, prestige and power that they seem to experience daily. We want people to admire us in the same way we admire the spiritual giants. But yet, for some reason, we are experiencing less of the “blessing” of following God.
The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3:12-14, says this:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Like the previously mentioned four men, Paul was an incredible achiever. He achieved great things for the Kingdom of God, more than perhaps any other individual in history (next to Christ). I suppose you could say that he was like a “spiritual version” of Michael Phelps. We would all do well to admire Paul. It would be beneficial for all of us to ask ourselves regularly if we have moved beyond the past and been pressing on to lay hold of that for which God has taken hold of us. This aspect of “pressing on” carries the implication of pushing against an opposing force with greater resistance than the opposing force is exerting. If we want to achieve God’s best, it is going to require pressing on with greater force against that which would keep us from achieving God’s best for our lives.
Of course, we cannot forget that it is impossible to “press ON” unless we are first “pressing IN” — pressing in to Jesus and being totally sold out to relationship with Him. After all, it is for His good pleasure that we were created and it is only in His strength that we will be able to achieve such a lofty task as He has set before us. Are we doing all we can to grow in relationship with Him, to live life according to His purpose for which we were created? Yes, following God full-heartedly will require pain and sacrifice. But, trust me, the pain and sacrifice will be worth it in the end. The fulfillment you will experience will far surpass anything you can imagine!
Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” So I guess you could say he was also a “spiritual version” of Mario Andretti, too. When I get to heaven, I want to know that I have done all I can, so I can hear God speak that way of me. I refuse to leave how I live this life and finish the race up to chance. I will do all I can to win the prize, with the help of the Lord. I trust you will, too.
What obstacles do you find yourself pushing against? How are you conquering it? We would love to hear how your success is going. Let us know how we can help.
Until next time, be blessed!