Monday, May 28, 2012

Three-legged Race

I ran a 5K race on Saturday with a friend.

When I say 'ran' I really mean walked. In the heat. While whining a bit about the hills.

As you can see in the above photo, we stopped at the mile markers to take photos. You can also see a team of three in red lugging water. They are ahead of us. They were only supposed to walk 3K while carrying a gallon of water. And they are ahead of us.

Last night as I stretched out in bed whining (again) about my aching, protesting muscles, we opened up our little book by C.D. Baker and read the section titled "Why can't I seem to 'run the good race'?"

I snorted a bit as I turned to page 49. I knew the answer to that: because I never train hard enough, pray enough, soak up God's word enough. Obviously. It was the same obvious reason why my friend and I ran some but not most of the race: we never trained.

As we read through the section in Baker's book we were both surprised that our default answer was wrong. We get that, sometimes, don't we? We get caught up in our 'try hard enough' Christian mentality only to find out we're missing the point of grace. All of Scripture, Baker reminded us, is about what we can't do... it's all about all the ways we've fallen short and God has loved us anyway.

In the end, Baker urged us to bind our legs to Christ. It's an almost humorous image... a bumbling, uncoordinated, giggling effort towards the finish line. Yet the primary emotion when crossing that line is joy, not self-satisfaction. Watch any team of three-legged racers cross a finish line: the laughter and celebration is contagious.

The good race is a combined effort, I think. A lopsided team, to be sure. Christ, the author and finisher of our faith does (as He always has) the Lion's share of the work. Our job? Tie our legs to His. Hold on. And trust.

And at the end of the race? The crown of victory is ours to wear because that's how our Lord loves. He does the work, we reap the rewards. The heart of grace is not in the 'trying hard' but the 'letting go'. And that is, well, Awesome... with a capital A and everything.

What do you think of Baker's image? Does it strike a chord with you like it did with me?

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Linking up with lovely Michelle this Monday morning:

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