Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)
TITLE: Passing on the Inside
By Joanney Uthe
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She’s trying to pass on the inside! My coach said always to pass on the outside. As I rounded the curve in the track, I took a few strides to the inside of the lane. If she didn’t know the rules of etiquette in distance running, maybe I can still get her to follow them. I heard her drop back a few paces before passing on the outside. Thankfully, I was able to pass her again and win the race. Both coaches noticed my tactic and congratulated me on my “smart” race, confirming that I had been in the right.
Four years later, as a more experienced racer, I watched my hero, Zola Budd, run the 3000 meters in the 1984 Olympics. The same age as me, Zola had broken world records running barefoot, only to have the records denied for political reasons. Now she was running as a British citizen and I wasn’t about to miss her Olympic debut! Zola led a close race with Mary Decker Tabb coming up behind. Decker Tabb tried to pass Zola on the inside, just as Sharon had tried to pass me, clipping Zola’s heals several times. Zola took a few strides to the inside of the lane and Decker Tabb fell, unable to finish the race. Zola, changing her focus from winning to what had happened, lost sight of the finish line and fell back, finishing seventh in the race.
How often we let the small mishaps of life take our focus off the race to which God has called us to run. One mistimed “Mom” and we loose our patience. One added activity puts our schedule in disarray. One harsh word shatters our confidence. One sin changes our lives forever.
In my early twenties, I walked away from God and went my own way. In the race of my life, I let a boyfriend pass God on my list of priorities. The consequences of ignoring God were delayed compared to the consequences of ignoring the convincing threats and fists of my boyfriend. I knew I was “living in sin” and what sin meant, but I had fallen down somewhere in the race.
Unlike Mary Decker Tabb, I was, by God’s grace, able to get back up and to get back in the race. I broke up with the boyfriend two months before we were to be married, but the consequences of that sin and the abuse of that relationship have affected the way I relate to the man I did marry. Though still able to run the race, I have been injured by that fall.
Galatians 5:7 says, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (NIV) Life is full of events that will either cause us to take our focus off God or cause us to run a smarter race. Our temporary loss of patience or hurried schedule may be the junior high runner who decided to pass on the outside lane, causing us to momentarily glance away from the goal. Yet, all of us will experience the World Class runner try consistently and intentionally to pass on the inside lane, clipping our heals with pain and temptation. Will we allow these experiences to trip us and cause us to fall? Will they succeed in taking our focus off the race God called us to run? More importantly, will we get back in the race and use the experience to further God’s kingdom.
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