One way that my husband and I vicariously satisfy our bug for travel, competition, and adventure is by watching the TV reality series, The Amazing Race. It’s a contest where teams of two travel around the world, completing challenges and feats arranged by the producers in each country they visit. They may have to do things like rappel down a skyscraper, eat fried scorpions, learn and perform a traditional dance, milk a camel, or even bungy jump off a high bridge.
Unfortunately, those are not the only challenges they encounter. Along the way they might get flat tires, run out of gas, lose precious time from traffic jams or clueless taxi drivers, run out of money, lose passports, or even be assigned an uncooperative animal. They frequently have trouble navigating maps, following directions, and communicating amid language barriers. In addition, they constantly battle vindictive competitors.
Why would anyone set themselves up for this kind of intimidation and aggravation? What would keep someone going in a grueling contest where they face exhaustion and paralyzing fears in order to progress? In the end, it is solely and simply about one thing: The PRIZE. $1,000,000! Now that’s motivation. Who couldn’t use a million bucks?
The Christian life is a lot like The Amazing Race in many ways. If we want The Prize, we are going to have to willingly endure the obstacles, trials, and difficulties along the way—and do it in such a way that we become victors in faith instead of victims of our circumstances!
Paul frequently mentioned the prize and living in such a way that we not get disqualified or quit. He was not speaking of salvation, which is a free gift by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul spoke of the future prize that is given for overcomers of the faith—those who live an obedient, fear-defying, faith-based, sacrificial life in Christ under the continuous guidance of the Holy Spirit. What is the coveted prize and reward? Check out a summary in Hebrews 11:32-25:
“For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection…” (if you wish to know more about the “better resurrection,” you can read more about it on my website at www.JulieFerwerda.com).
Though there is a future reward, surely there also is a reward NOW for living as an overcomer. God promises things like peace, purpose, and provision for those who dare to live by faith and obedience (Jer. 29:11, Rom. 8:6, Matt. 6:33). He promises abundant life NOW to those who stay continuously connected to the Vine (John 10:10 and John 15:5).
One of the great threats to claiming your prize (both now and later) is fear. As a single person pursuing the life of an overcomer—an Amazing Racer—I want to encourage you to learn to face your fears so that they will not disqualify you from the race or make you give up. Fears at this stage in life can come in many forms:
· Fear of failure at relationships
· Fear of being alone
· Fear of not living out your dreams
· Fear of facing God-orchestrated leaps of faith alone
· Fear of not being able to survive financially
· Fear of missing out on God’s best plan for your life
What will get you and I through the paralyzing fears on our way to being overcomers while living a life of great faith? What will help us live in the prize now and get us on our way to receiving the prize later? It is getting a proper view of the immensity, the power, and the goodness of our God.
There’s a great biblical account that contrasts the difference between overcomers (Amazing Racers) and the overcome. When the Lord was leading the Israelites into the Promised Land (their Prize!), He sent 12 spies to get a report. Two came back and said, “Let’s go at once to take the land. We can certainly conquer it!” But ten came back and said, “All the people we saw were huge…giants even! We felt like grasshoppers next to them. We can’t go up against them—they are stronger than we are!” (Numbers 13:30-33).
What was the difference in the two reports? Two focused on the power and might of the unlimited God they serve and the reward He offered. Ten saw themselves as grasshoppers. Two saw only mere men milling about. Ten saw giants bigger than their “god” standing in the way of victory.
Remember that you can’t run and win an Amazing Race while being consumed or controlled by fear. In fact, the way you handle your fears will determine your destiny. If you panic and try to take control, you will only multiply your fears and your problems. But if you apply yourself to learning the truth about how big is your God, you will overcome.
Today remind yourself that you are no grasshopper with God. Wherever He is leading you, there is a prize involved, but first you must overcome in His power.
Lee Warren is a forty-something-year-old single person who lives in Nebraska. He is the author of the book Single Servings: 90 Devotions to Feed Your Soul, published by Revell. Julie Ferwerda is a forty-something married person who has had a spectrum of experiences in the single’s life after divorce. She is the author of “The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love,” and has written dozens of singles articles for CBN and other publications.