SPIRITUAL MATTERS: A trophy that never gathers dust

Once upon a time, my father rode a competition trials bike. In his day, a trials bike was little different to a road-going motorcycle - it's just that these machines were ridden in challenging off-road conditions through rivers and rock-strewn creek beds, through muddy fields and along narrow rutted tracks. The aim was not to fall off the bike or even put a foot down to steady oneself. These misdemeanors would cost a rider valuable points. And the rider who had accumulated the least number of demerit points would be declared the winner.

Motorcycling ran in my family. My father passed the love of two-wheels down to each of his three sons. My eldest brother, Norman, had a couple of awesome BSA road-bikes that to my teenage eyes were dream-machines. Martin was next in line - number two in the family - and he took to trials-riding like a duck to water. However, in the era when Martin excelled at the sport, the trials-bike was a very different machine. It was purpose-built from the ground up to be very light and very maneuverable and had an engine with power and torque well-suited to very low-speed, stop/start action with the rider always standing on the foot pegs.

Martin won many competitions and accumulated prizes for his acumen in riding a trials-bike, both in the UK and Australia. When he died in his late twenties, I was proud to acquire, and look after some of the trophies he'd been awarded.

Recently, when relocating my library at home in the midst of some recent renovations, moving those trophies to their new home brought back many fond - and at the same time sad - memories. But among Martin's trophies are scattered some of my own, representing awards gained at show-and-shine car shows, trophies for attending the most number of car club events during particular years and others won while competing in the Na division of historic car races in my ex. Doug Clark Austin Lancer.

To many, trophies are simply dust-gatherers. But to the recipients, under the inevitable layer of dust, they stand as tangible reminders of significant achievements and are, as such, valuable.

A moment ago I was reading of a man who was visiting another when he noticed a large glass case filled with trophies. There were trophies for bowling, trophies for racing cars, trophies for athletic achievements, and many others. Each one had the man's name engraved on it. The visitor commented that he too had been very active in sports, but had never won a trophy of any kind. At that point the wife let the proverbial cat out of the bag. She told how her husband had bought most of those trophies himself, and how he'd paid to have his own name engraved on them. The man had awarded those trophies to himself!

I guess the urge to achieve something in life is very strong in most of us. And tangible recognition of that is generally prized. However, the lustre of material trophies inevitably fades with time, and even memories grow dim.
In Paul's letter to the church in Philippi, he told them: "I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us"!

When all's said and done, it's really the eternal prize that counts. All others just gather dust!

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