Torch races

Some races belong to the fleet and some to the strong. And, some belong to those who are willing to endure all simply to finish at all. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.

Sometimes it doesn't matter how quickly your run; just that you finish. Everyone has bad days; days which like any other days start out all right but somewhere along the way a bit of sand or a patch of ice has an unforeseen role to play and crash, what started out fine ends up a disaster. Run as hard as you can and you still can’t seem to get out of last place. Perhaps when days like this raise their ugly heads there is only one practical course to take, dropping out of the race and saving the effort for another time.

The Greeks, well known for their competitive spirit, invented the art of competitive running. There were many races that were run during the course of their frequent Olympic competitions. We are familiar with the marathon and high hurdles as well as the myriad of short course races they also ran. But there was one race which held periodically outside of the Olympic competition that was as highly regarded perhaps even more so than all the other competitive races. This race was called the torch relay. The race which spawned the modern day Olympic torch race and ceremony, often took place in the streets and alleys of Athens. Ten or twelve men would assemble before the city fathers, each carrying a torch, a simple bound bundle of twigs inset in a hollow containers. The twigs were coated with tar and then, one by one, each torch was lit from the same flame. On their marks, the runners were sent out as a group and guided along a course that had been laid out among the city streets on which obstacles and barriers had been placed. The object of the race was to cross the finish line with your torch still lit. You could not stop and put the torch down or prop it anywhere. You had to hold it high and run with as much integrity as possible. In this race the victory seldom went to the fastest or the strongest. This was a race that depended upon timing and rhythm. To keep that torch lit required the ability to hold it properly, shielded from objects along the route and held away from the wind. If you ran too fast, you might put out the flame. If you ran to slow, the tar might burn up completely before you reached the finish line. If a runner’s torch flamed out, there was no relighting it. He was forced to drop out. The winner of the race was the first man to cross the finish line with his torch still lit. Winning was, therefore, dependent upon endurance, not speed.

Job was a man involved in a very similar race. God had put numerous “objects” across his path. He handed Job a torch, his earthly lot that must be regarded even when it has become a burden, and put him to the run. In the course of that race, Job got tired and the burden became very heavy. Finishing the race was becoming more and more of a hardship for Job. It came to a point in the “race” when Job simply didn’t want to go on any more. He wanted out. Willing to forfeit the prize, crossing the finish line with his torch still lit, still held high, no longer seemed like a very good idea. But, it wasn’t a request that God was willing to grant. Some races belong to the fleet and some to the strong. And, some belong to those who are willing to endure all simply to finish at all. These are the torch races, the ones that are designed to test mind and body completely. Endurance contests, pitting the New Man’s will to stay the course and trust that God will hold him up against the Old Man’s will to give up before it get’s any worse; torch races that have little to do with how quickly and straight you run and everything to do with finishing at all.

We pray. Heavenly Father, teach us to know that some races belong to the fleet and some to the strong. Especially, Lord, teach us to be willing to endure all things simply so that we will finish the race in the end. Help us with those torch races in life that require extra effort, patience and endurance so that we will become tested in body and mind so as to enable us to be the person you designed us to be. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)

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