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Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Year... An Old Race


Almost exactly two years ago today…  Makiah and I stand pressed tightly in a line of people waiting to get off the airplane.  I glance nervously at my watch.  We have been sitting on the runway much too long.  Our next flight leaves in 30 minutes… on the other side of the Atlanta airport.  As I wait, I am picturing myself hauling a protesting three year old and luggage through the crowds in a panic.  I think we need a plan so I say, “Sweetie, we are going to play a game.  We are going to pretend that we are in a race.  We are a team, and we have to help each other run.  But the most important thing is we can’t let go.  No matter what we have to hold onto each others hands.”  The scene flashes through my mind and I wince.   I didn’t want to lose her.

Then in my mind’s eye I see us running breathlessly to the next flight.   I had envisioned dragging a screaming child through the airport, but instead she is dragging me!  I am covered over in bags, and she is gripping tightly to my hand.  My breath comes hard, and I think my lungs will surely explode.  I decide my new year’s resolution will be to join the gym!  “Don’t stop, Mommy!”  Makiah cheers me on.  “You gotta keep going!  Come on, Mama!  Don’t quit the race!”

Her little voice echos in my mind.  Reverberating in my soul.  That day seems almost prophetic now.  Some days I think I cannot breathe.  The pain in my chest threatens to burn through me.  I peer down at my empty hands.  I let go.  I wasn’t able to grip tightly enough.  I thought the most important thing was for us to stay together.  She was ripped away from me, and the shards of my shattered dreams have pierced my grasping, empty hands.  Almost like a stake being driven through.  Almost.  But then I think of One who did have the stake driven through rough hands.  That engraving of flesh has carved out more than skin.  It has carved out a way for me.   A way so that my bleeding hands and heart won’t always be empty.

And maybe I was wrong.  Maybe the most important thing is not being together.  Maybe it is finishing.  The Race.  Strong.  “Don’t stop, Mommy!”  Makiah cheers from heaven.  “You gotta keep going!  Come on!  Don’t quit the race!”  I can hear her.  Almost. 

I think of Max Lucado’s words from his book Just Like Jesus.  My mom read them to me recently…

     “The word race is from the Greek agon, from which we get the word agony.  The Christian’s race is not a jog but rather a demanding and grueling, sometimes agonizing race.  It takes massive effort to finish strong.
     Likely you’ve noticed that many don’t?  Surely you’ve observed there are many on the side of the trail?  They used to be running.  There was a time when they kept the pace.  But then weariness set in.  They didn’t think  the run would be this tough…
   By contrast, Jesus’ best work was his final work, and his strongest step was his last step.  Our master is the classic example of one who endured… He could have quit the race.  But he didn’t.”

I am Broken.  Humbled.  Awed.  Challenged.  And  Relieved.  Relieved that I get to finish the race in His strong arms.  My last step will be with Him.  In Him.  And His last step was his strongest…





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