A rolling-ball clock in the British Museum struck me as a vivid illustration of the deadening effects of routine. A small steel ball traveled in grooves across a tilted steel plate until it tripped a lever on the other side. This tilted the plate back in the opposite direction, reversed the direction of the ball and advanced the clock hands. Every year, the steel ball traveled some 2,500 miles back and forth, but never really went anywhere.
It’s easy for us to feel trapped by our daily routine when we can’t see a larger purpose. The apostle Paul longed to be effective in making the gospel of Christ known. “I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air” (1 Cor. 9:26 niv). Anything can become monotonous—traveling, preaching, teaching, and especially being confined in prison. Yet Paul believed he could serve Christ his Lord in every situation.
Routine becomes lethal when we can’t see a purpose in it. Paul’s vision reached beyond any limiting circumstance because he was in the race of faith to keep going until he crossed the finish line. By including Jesus in every aspect of his life, Paul found meaning even in the routine of life.
And so can we.
Lord, give us renewed vision and energy to pursue the goal of making Christ known in the midst of our daily routine.
Jesus can transform our routine into meaningful service for Him.
To illustrate his unwavering resolve to preach the gospel to as many people as possible (1 Cor. 9:18-23), Paul used two athletic metaphors—a runner who keeps his eye on the finish line, and the targeted and precise punches of a boxer. These examples picture the passion, focus, commitment, dedication, and hard work needed to carry out his resolve. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8, Paul used the same two metaphors. While athletes compete to win a prize bestowed by men, Paul sought to win an eternal crown awarded by Jesus. Faithful believers will receive various types of crowns as their reward (2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Rev. 2:10). J.R. Hudberg