When I was in England with John we saw a boy wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed, "Where there is no finish line."
I understand that N*ke had a series of posters in the early 1990's that proclaimed "There is no finish line." I think I understand what they are trying to say. You should "Set your goals. Follow your heart. Live your dreams." And if you're wearing N*kes you'll never get tired and you can go on endlessly. And in some things, you set a goal, achieve it, set another goal, achieve it, and so on. You keep pressing foward. However, if you set a small goal, achieve it and then quit, you'll never get very far.
But when I saw the shirt my reaction was, "Now THAT would be awful!" Who wants to run in an endless race? Who wants to play an endless game? Who wants to follow an endless course? Who wants to go through an endless ordeal? Who wants to live an endless life (especially if you keep getting older and more decrepit but never die)?
Talk about exhausting. Running endlessly. Playing endlessly. Going through an endless ordeal. Never getting the satisfaction of having won the race.
Half the fun of competition is the finish line. It gives you something to aim for. It reminds you that the end is in sight. It presents an achievable goal. It lets you quit before you drop dead of exhaustion. And if you didn't do so well, it gives you a chance to run in another race, to play another game.
If this is true in races, games, and one-time ordeals, how much more it is true in the race of life. The long, difficult race is possible when we know there is an end and that there is a reward for finishing the race. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12-14: "But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
And in II Timothy 4:7, 8 Paul wrote: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me--the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. and the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing."
Yep. I think we should play or run to win. I think it is downright exhausting. But, thank God, there is a finish line and He will be there when I cross it!