Every March, the Iditarod Trail Race is held in Alaska. Sled dogs and their drivers, called “mushers,” race across a 1,049-mile route from Anchorage to Nome. The competing teams cover this great distance in anywhere from 8 to 15 days. In 2011, a record time was set by musher John Baker who covered the entire route in 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds. The teamwork between dogs and driver is remarkable, and those who compete are tenacious in their efforts to win. The first-place winner receives a cash prize and a new pickup truck. But after so much perseverance in extreme weather conditions, the accolades and prizes may seem insignificant and transient.
The excitement of a race was a familiar concept to the apostle Paul, but he used competition to illustrate something eternal. He wrote, “Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Cor. 9:25).
Sometimes we are tempted to place our emphasis on temporal rewards, which perish with the passing of time. The Scriptures, however, encourage us to focus on something more permanent. We honor God by seeking spiritual impact that will be rewarded in eternity.
Here we wrestle night and day;
There we lay our burdens down,
There we wear the victor’s crown. —Anon.