God blessed me this weekend with reward for the work I had put into debate. Rachel and I both placed well as a team and individually at our practice tournament - for me, it was better than I had expected or really even hoped for.
Overall, the most surprising thing for me was placing first as a novice speaker. I still find it puzzling that God decided to allow me to accomplish this since I've been praying desperately for more humility! But God knows what He's doing. However, I've learned something from this experience that I wasn't expecting.
I'd never placed first in anything during me past two years of speech, nor this season so far. I'd always wished for it, dreamed of it, but it never came. And all of a sudden, yesterday I got that "first place" award without even really expecting it. I suddenly got what I'd been hoping for for years. In the middle of any tournament, placing like this gets you feeling excited and triumphant. You feel like you've finally made it, you're finally accomplishing something significant and important. Even though this was just a practice tournament, the results seem big to us when we're a part of it all. I mean, first place, right?
On the way home from the debate, I stared out the window of the car into the dark, starry night sky. I felt God pressing on my heart as I looked out at the vastness of his grandeur displayed in the heavens. I sat there overwhelmed by the simple, saving gospel wherein an all-powerful God chose to love, die, and save me. I remembered the nails in His hands and the thorns on his head. I thought over what had happened. And I realized that I this seemingly significant award was really nothing when I thought of what I already have: Jesus. Gaining "first place" is nothing when it doesn't even stand up to what I have already been given: salvation.
I understood Philippians 3:8 a little more that night: "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Especially now in the light of having something which the world would tell me is great gain, I see all the more that it is nothing compared to the absolute greatness of Jesus. I would readily give it all up if called to by the One who saved my soul. I want to do everything for Him. Whether my name is never mentioned again or whether I am known to everyone, I always want to view life as I do now - in comparison.
And when compared to Jesus, everything is as loss. When compared to His sacrifice, no sacrifice is too great. When compared to His love, no commitment is too much. When compared to Him, nothing in this world stands.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.