Compete to win!

The early daffodils were spent and gone, and the late daffodils were…well…later than usual. But a friend called Thursday to say that she was about to bring some of her best blooms to the National Convention of the American Daffodil Society.

We were both volunteering at this convention, as members of the host city’s chapter. The reasoning behind amateurs bringing their daffodils was sound. “There will be more entries on the tables, and the winners will feel better,” Evelyn said.

Well, that made sense. As a team member and a fledgling Daffodil Society member, I wanted to be as helpful as I could be.

Having twenty minutes on a cold morning to find a few good specimens among the dead blooms, I hurried through the garden, not knowing what would even be considered “good.” What did I know about petal substance, reflexed perianths, and coronas? Most of us just grow what we like, not for “show” — literally.

But it was free, and it was fun. There was a huge room that day to “stage” the daffodils. Experienced growers helped the newbies put our specimens into test tubes and prop them up with sprigs of boxwood. Others helped us put the “color codes” on the entry forms.

Three of us novice daffodil growers even won a ribbon or two! In the spirit of full disclosure, there was a special category for those of us who grow fewer than 50 varieties of narcissus. The competition shipped ice chests from overseas, loaded with gorgeous, fragrant blossoms.

Competing for fun was just that – fun. In our Christian walk, we have only one race about which we should be deadly serious. Winning is everything!

How many entries were there without a ribbon? There were hundreds of stems in the show. Not all won, by far.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NASB).

In running the Christian race, not all receive the prize — eternal life. Why not? Paul implies that the reason might be that many do not even try to win. When we’re in a competition that really matters, we must exercise self-control.

The sprigs of boxwood provided by the convention organizers helped control the daffodils from flopping around in their little test-tube vases and turning their pretty little heads away from the judge’s eye.

Similarly, we must exercise control of ourselves, lest we fail to catch the merciful eye of the righteous Judge of our eternal souls.

The entry forms seemed tedious and overly specific as we filled them out the evening before the judging began. But laying out the code for the classifications, perianth color, and corona colors was required by the judges.

We understand following instructions when it comes to earthly judging. But are we quick to question the instruction of the Lord?

We amateurs were shocked at how much work went into preparation to show a single daffodil. We come away from such things with a flimsy ribbon, and we are pleased. Let us not miss the real prize!

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