I’ve watched a lot of cross-country races in my day. All three of my kids participate in the sport, so I’ve become a big fan. One of my favorite races is the Steven Thompson Memorial Centipede. It’s unlike any other high school meet my kids’ teams attend because the athletes run as a single unit for the first two-thirds of the race. No joke: all seven members of the team hold a rope while they run.
For the final mile, they drop the rope and finish the race as individuals. But each athlete’s finishing time is driven, in large part, by the strength of their team whose collective pace positions them for the final mile. The fastest athletes finish slower than they do when they run alone and, often, the slower runners finish faster.
The faith illustration didn’t stop there for me, however.
The coach’s instruction, audible to those listening intently, was one simple word: “Doubles.” The girls immediately shifted their defensive strategy and double-teamed their tall, ball-carrying opponent.
We’re not meant to go through life alone.
My fair skin has been ravaged by sun damage: I’m wrinkled beyond my years and scarred from removing multiple Basal Cell cancer lesions. My brown mop has enough gray hairs in it that nobody can mistake them for ‘highlights’ anymore. My teeth are anything but brilliant white. I’m over 40 and overweight.
And sometimes all of that undermines my confidence, when surrounded by the features of my slender, tanned or blond female peers. Our society values those physical attributes more than the ones God gave me genetically. In today’s American culture, the ones I posses are not regarded as beautiful.
I consider it chemotherapy for my prideful, sinful nature.
All it takes is a few moments standing at the edge of the ocean for me to be reminded swiftly and surely of my utter insignificance but for the love of God.
I got a hefty dose this week during a trip to Portland. We’d migrated to the coast mid-morning and were frustrated at the onslaught of rain, which relegated us to indoor activities instead of beach-combing and tidepool-sleuthing. My kids were quickly disinterested in the options available to us. I was quickly ‘disinterested’ in their attitudes. As the day progressed, our patience for one another eroded. Eventually, as darkness approached with rain-unabated, we pulled on rain boots, donned hats, gloves and coats, and extended umbrellas. Out we went to savor whatever we could of this precious time at the edge.
No, I’m not referring to Haddaway’s 1990’s hit, revived by the SNL ‘Roxbury’ sketches.
Every year around Valentine’s Day, 1 Corinthians 13 trends on Twitter and Facebook because of its references to love. The same passage is so commonly used in wedding ceremonies (mine included) that it’s almost a pre-requisite.
I’m tempted to roll my eyes at the litany of 1 Corinthians 13 Tweets and status updates, because the word used in that passage for love is a Greek word (agapē). Agapē describes the love that only God can manifest, not the romantic love (eros) touted on February 14th. Agapē is the word used in 1 John 4:8 to describe God Himself. By contrast, the Greek word used in the Bible to describe the interrelationships of humans is phileō.