By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV).
On one of the websites that offered world statistics, the Bahamas was rated as the most athletic country in the world considering our population size and our accomplishments. Can you imagine the implications of such a statement? It has already come to mean hosting CARIFTA, and the World Relays in a state-of-the-art stadium, and beach soccer.
If we continue to develop our young people’s talents and provide opportunities for them to excel, they have a bright future in a global world where the best are pursued. Many of our athletes receive scholarships abroad but still run under the Bahamian flag in international meets. Consequently, we share in their glory. They will always be our children, fostering national pride in all of us.
Our diet and attitude to healthy living will greatly impact their physical stamina. Let us listen to the medical guidelines given and really lay an excellent nutritional foundation for our children from pre-conception, by having healthy mothers as healthy women before pregnancy and healthy fathers, with no drug addiction in our home. At the same time, let us strive for harmonious family relationships as a part of our nation’s health as well, as emotions affect the body more than we often realise.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:43-45 NIV).
What about the spiritual side of our people? What if we also become known internationally as a godly people who also run a race toward holiness, decency, kindness, love and justice? What if we flexed the muscles of prayer, and trained the spirit using a variety of spiritual disciplines? What if God’s name is praised whenever we win, and God’s grace keeps us humble as we prosper financially?
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him… “When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6: 5-8, 16-18 NIV).
Some of us may never be able to win a medal for sports but we all can walk away from wickedness, run toward righteousness, and jump to do Jesus’ bidding. Let us keep a good balance between body, mind and spirit and win the crown that never fades by putting God first as St Paul did: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3: 12-14 NIV).
When the time comes for us to die, as we all will unless the Lord returns before, we need to have prepared ourselves in advance. Lent provides an excellent opportunity to put our houses in order and make peace with our God. Once this is done, whenever our “number is called” we will be able to say like St. Paul: “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8 NIV).