Through some selection fluke, I got picked to be part of my schools Cross Country team. The idea was that there would be inter-school races. So, one afternoon, we boarded a coach to take us to another school in Dudley for our first competitive race.
The school was a Secondary Modern school and a bit rough. Not that I’m a snob or anything, since this School was the closest to where I lived and had I not passed my 11plus exam to go to Grammar School, this is where I would have ended up. So, I knew the school and I knew the kids.
The cross-country course was through some hilly, rocky, and wooded terrain, and when given the instruction we all set off. I think that one of the tactics of the other schools’ kids was to get us lost on the route. So, they set off at a pace and before long they disappeared into the distance. It looked even at this early stage that we were heading for a humiliating defeat.
After about 3-miles of running we arrived back at the start point ready to begin our second lap of the course. Only to find the kids from the other school piled in a heap on the floor, red-faced and exhausted and complaining terribly to their Sports Teacher. “We ay gewin round agen” they kept saying despite the pleadings of their teacher. So, with the encouraging words of our Sports Master ringing in our ears
“if you lot don’t run your in detention for a week”, we duly carried on and completed our race. We won hands down.
I keep reminding myself, and anyone else who will listen to me, that the circumstances we find ourselves in means that we are not in a 100metres sprint but a long-distance race. And unless God intervenes miraculously (pray God that He will), we may be facing weeks if not months of the limitations we are experiencing now.
Therefore, we have to avoid the temptation of getting everything done now, today, this week. Yes the fence might need painting, the bathroom decorating, the garage tidying, the house given a spring clean, but we have to avoid the temptation of approaching these like we normally do, in a rush, with limited time, with a ‘get it done now’ attitude.
We need to pace ourselves or else we run the risk of exhausting ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, and having little energy left for the rest of the race. In a world that we have become so used to that places heavy demands on us, that causes us to run around often like headless chickens to keep up with the expectations placed on us, a world that has proffered a ’just do it’ mentality, we now find ourselves with more of that precious commodity we have all been yearning for – time.
I am reminded of the following scriptures:
Hebrews 12: 1-3; And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…………… so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
And 2 Timothy 4:7-8; 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…………..
So, I would encourage you, and I speak to myself, to pace ourselves, to build into our day, time to stop, to pause, to listen, to pray, to rest, to laugh – and not feel guilty.
Back to the story of my race. We all got showered and changed only to find that the kids from the other school had congregated by the school gates ready to give a beating to anyone who was intent on walking home. I have to confess, that I boarded the coach, drove past the local mob, and got dropped off about 500 yards down the road as I lived nearby. I then legged it through the estate and back to the safety of my home. That was when I needed to sprint!