Spiritual Formation

Delight in the End Goal

“You must do the things you think you cannot do." – Eleanor Roosevelt by Captain Stephanie Pavlakis

I have always wanted to be a runner. I love the idea of going for long runs on trails through the parks and woods around my neighborhood. The alone time, the physical benefits, the time in nature all sound so appealing. Friends share about their running experiences, and it sounds almost heavenly. I so badly want to be a runner. The problem is that I hate running. It’s a lot of work and a lot of pain. I overthink how my legs and arms should move and what I must look like with my weird semi-jogging gait, panting my way through the neighborhood. It feels like time slows down and yet I don’t seem to move any faster. Never has a minute lasted so long as when I am trying to run. 

The only time I felt like I was successful as a mediocre jogger was when I signed up for a series of 5K fun runs. There are many different types of those events out there. Color runs, mud runs, superhero runs, destination runs, national park runs, bubble runs. The list goes on and on. Yes, these runs truly were fun, but what motivated me had less to do with the fun and more to do with the medal. I would only sign up for a run if it came with a cool medal. For me, it was all about the end goal. Knowing that I was running for a purpose, running towards a goal, a reward, made all the difference.

Paul writes about something similar. In Philippians, he writes to encourage them to work towards the goal. He acknowledges that while he has not yet reached perfection, he still chooses to continue and endure because of the prize at the end of the race — eternity with Jesus Christ. We must be careful to remember that Paul is not talking about salvation. There is nothing we can do to earn salvation. That is purely and completely a gift of grace. Rather, he’s talking about life in the here and now. He’s talking about continuing to grow in spiritual maturity and understanding as we continue to persevere as believers in a world that does not welcome us. There are many times when Paul could have chosen to quit and yet he chose to press on towards the goal. 

Having a goal-oriented spiritual maturity can keep us centered. It gives us perspective on the trials we face in comparison to the reward that awaits us in heaven. It places a seed of deep joy in our hearts that we can call on when it seems that the run is too tough or the hill too steep or the race too long. The goal makes all the difference. 

Finding Joy

  • How can having a spiritual goal-oriented approach change your perspective on life?
  • In what ways does knowing that there is a goal at the end of this race bring joy?

Supporting Scripture

“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Philippians 3:13-14