There is an old story about the Greek Marathon. Muscular, conditioned runners paced nervously near the starting line for the long-distance race. The time was near. They "shook out" their muscles, inhaled deeply, and put on their "game faces."
In the midst of it all, a young stranger took his place at the starting line. His physique was awesome. Taking no notice of the other contestants, he stared straight ahead. Two prizes would be awarded the winner of the Marathon: a magnificent bouquet of flowers and the honor of standing beside the king until the conclusion of other contests.
There seemed to be no question among the runners about who would win the prize. It is alleged that the stranger was offered money not to run. Someone else attempted to bribe him with property. Refusing the offers, he toed the mark and awaited the signal to run. When the signal was given, he was the first away. At the finish line, he was the first to cross, well ahead of the rest.
When it was all done, someone asked the young man if he thought the flowers were worth as much as the money and property he had refused. He replied, "I did not enter the race for the flowers. I ran so that I could stand beside my king!"
Those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ are "running the race" (1 Cor. 9:24-25). It is a race that has a prize for those who finish (notice, not those who finish first, but all who finish). This prize, according to Paul, is an "imperishable crown." The rewards for those who enter heaven are described in scripture with a lot of terms - "many mansions", "streets of gold", "tree of life" - and the list goes on and on. All of those things are attractive. That's why God tells us about them.
But I would be willing to give up all the streets of gold and settle for a small corner of a shack as long as I can know the reward of being able to stand beside my King. That's what I look forward to more than anything else. It is the one thing that will make heaven the wonderful reward that it will be. "...The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him." (Rev. 22:3)
Run the race with diligence. Your King is watching and waits for you at the finish line