by Jan SilviousSome years ago an Alabama company introduced a health drink, "Jogging in a Jug," with the claim that all a person has to do is drink it to experience the strength and power of jogging regularly. Few of us, either senior or junior citizens, will ever compete in the Olympics, but all of us long for the feeling of well-being and the glow that accompanies successful participation-whether in a contest or in life. While I cannot attest to the claims of this health product, I do know that God's grace gives believers the power to run a winning race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, the Apostle Paul writes, "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." I have always been a strong competitor, but early in my Christian life, I had a tough time trying to run the race. I struggled and failed repeatedly, with my bad attitudes and with my habit of speaking before I think. I knew I was called to a different lifestyle than I had lived before, and that, as a Christian, I now had a new Master and new goals for my life. But I never seemed to measure up. I was barely staying in the race, much less going for the prize! One of the most encouraging dimensions of my new life was the idea of God's grace. He gives grace for the race, and once we realize that life-giving power is ours, we will not be content simply to sit on the sidelines and watch others run. We'll go for the gold. Having God's grace means we don't have to be concerned with all the times we've stumbled and fallen previously. All we need to do is accept His grace-the favor we don't deserve-and receive the strength to turn in a winning performance. This effortless competition seems too good to be true. Yet 1 John 3:1 tells us: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" The Greek word for "how great a love" really means "what a foreign kind of love." What a peculiar kind of love, that sets no conditions except that it be received. That is grace! As if this were not enough, our heavenly Father has also set aside a prize for those who persevere in the race. While the world may confer gold medals and blue ribbons, our reward is "a crown that will last." Even if you have always been an armchair athlete in the race of life, decide to accept God's grace. He will enable you to stay with the contest until you are ready to receive His reward for a race well run.