Once upon a time, there was a little boy the other children called “Sparky,” after a comic strip horse named Sparkplug. Even though the boy hated the nickname, he could never shake it.
School was difficult for Sparky. He failed every subject in the 8th grade. He flunked physics in high school. In fact, he still holds the school record for being the worst physics students in the school’s history. He also flunked Latin, algebra, and English. He didn’t do much better in sports. He made the school’s golf team, but his poor play ended up costing his team the championship.
Throughout his youth, Sparky was a loser socially. Not that he was actively disliked by other kids—it’s just that nobody paid much attention to him. He was astonished if a classmate even said hello outside of school. He never dated or even asked a girl out. He was afraid of being turned down. Sparky didn’t let being a loser bother him that much; he just decided to make it through life the best he could and not worry about what other people thought of him.
Sparky did, however, have a hobby. He loved cartoons, and he liked drawing his own cartoons. No one else thought they were any good, however. When he was a senior, he submitted some cartoons to the school yearbook and they were rejected. Sparky kept drawing anyway.
Sparky dreamed about being an artist for Walt Disney. After graduating from high school, he wrote a letter to Walt Disney Studios inquiring about job opportunities. He received a form letter requesting samples of his artwork. The form letter asked him to draw a funny cartoon of “a man repairing a clock by shoveling the springs and gears back inside it.”
Sparky drew the cartoon and mailed it off with some of his other work to Disney Studios. He waited and waited for a reply. Finally the reply came—another form letter telling him that there was no job for him. Sparky was disappointed but not surprised. He had always been a loser, and this was just one more loss. In a weird way, he thought, his life was kind of funny. He tried telling his own life story in cartoons—a childhood full of the misadventures of a little boy loser, a chronic underachiever. This cartoon character has now become known by the whole world. The boy who failed the 8th grade, the young artist whose work was rejected not only by Walt Disney Studios but by his own high school yearbook, was Charles Monroe “Sparky” Shultz—creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip and the little boy loser whose kite never flies: Charlie Brown.
How many of you can identify with Charles Shultz in some way? Maybe in different areas of your life you feel like a Sparky. How about when it comes to being a Christian? It’s very hard to be a Christian. 70% of everyone around you in all areas of your life doesn’t believe in having the same commitment as you. Then of that 30% that is left calls themselves a Christian but doesn’t like to show it all the time or only picks when they want to show it.
The problem is that we spend too much time watching other people and worrying about what they are doing and not enough time taking care of what we should be doing. We spend a lot of time pointing out that nobody else is doing what they should be doing, and not enough making sure that we continue living the life God has called us to. .
Let’s read what Paul has to say about that in
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (The Message)
24-25You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. 26-27I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
So will you run to win?