Sunday, January 24, 2021
The woods through which life’s ‘race’ winds.
‘Why do you complain against me? You have all rebelled against me,’ says the Lord.
Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Words of Grace For Today
The all seniors cross country foot race was held yesterday in the land of the faithful.
One young woman, really a girl still and the star runner among the girls, decided the night before, that she would meet with her friends for supper, to celebrate that this year for the first time the senior girls would run along with the boys.
It was a fine celebration, with duck, wine, and chocolates, and it went on and on for the victory of being able to run against the boys was a long two year battle. The later it got, the harder they celebrated, until it was midnight, then 1:00, then 2:00 when the bar, long since closed, booted them out into the taxis called for the girls.
The star male runner kept to his pre-race routine. He had a solid supper, with plenty milk and fruit juice to drink. He went to bed at his normal 10 pm, woke up at 7:00, and did a short 1 km jog to warm up before a good breakfast. He was confident he was ready when he got a ride to the race grounds. He had received a call from his friend who had test-run the race course as soon as it was set at 8:00 to get the details of what it looked like.
The star girl runner woke at 8:10 with a headache and queasy stomach. She ate a full breakfast, with lots of coffee. She arrived at the race grounds looking a bit worse for wear but not anything like she looked at 8:10.
There were a number of sprints, and shorter races held first, so it was 12:30 before a lunch break was called. The girl ate a light, nutritious penitent lunch with plenty of juice. The boy grabbed french fries and a burger with a coke. By 1:30 there were two more shorter races to be run before the main 5K cross-country race. The girls in each race had held their own, winning one and placing second in a few more. Predictably the boys were stronger and faster.
At 1:40 there was one more race. The star boy ran to the wood with his nervous stomach and emptied the fries, burger and coke into the bush. That was common. Then, so confident of himself, he forgot to eat the sugar cubes he normally ate for his empty stomach to give him energy. The star girl, penitent to the core, visited the washroom and relieved herself of the vestiges of last night’s revelry.
Then their race was called. They lined up. Set their marks. At the gun they were off.
They started, almost slow compared to the other races, but fast for this long distance. The girl drafted off the boy as they entered the woods where the trail wound up and down and around the river valley before coming back into view for the last half kilometre to the finish line.
In the woods something happened that had never happened before ….
When the runners appeared the star runners where shoulder to shoulder. Not just next to each other, but with an arm around the other racer, they struggled to run. The pack came into view easily behind them, and though they could have passed the two, they stayed in formation behind them. It was a sight to see.
As they came closer it became obvious that the girl supported the boy with his arm around her shoulder. He was limping badly on his left leg, barely touching his right foot to the ground.
So it was they came in tied for first place across the finish line, with the other five boys and one girl runners in formation close behind them, tied for third.
… In the woods something happened that had never happened before to the boy in a race as the various racer’s recounted afterwards. His right ankle turned, he fell, rolled and lay in pain. The girl, just 2 strides behind him – some other racers say he was toying with her and was not looking ahead – stopped to help him up. He was ready to quit, his sure victory lost. But she kindly reminded him he was a racer not a quitter. She wrapped his arm over her shoulders, grabbed him by the waist and they hobbled on. The other racers, a few at a time coming upon them, at first stayed in the order they arrived, but when the path entered the last half kilometre they joined arm in arm in a line behind the two, who had developed a faster pace.
In the ‘race’ of life, if we think we are headed for the finish on our own, ready to win the glory of God, we are sorely deluded. Not a single one of us is pure enough for that.
It is only the Grace of God that picks us up (usually borne by another human who God’s Grace has saved) and carries us, each year, each day, each minute towards the glory of God promised to us at our baptisms. Not a single one of us can finish the ‘race’ on our own. Only by Grace do we move forward at all, and then only humbly with others’ aide.
The victory party for that race was more subdued by far than the girls’ party of the night before, though it spread across the whole community, as people heard what Grace and the other racers had done that day … for both the girls and the boys … and the whole community.
We are in this together, and only together by Grace can we make it through life, yet alone the pandemic … or anything else life and evil throw at us.
Hang in there, together,