Thursday, November 5, 2009



November 5, 2009

They entered the water in ones and twos.

The ocean.

LaJolla, California.

November 3.

It was 60 degrees in the water...a bit warmer on land....with a landward breeze.

We sat at a table near the window, watching, and eating, and murmUring at the site below.

The final beach preparation:
stretching, and putting on a wet suit and a bright colored head covering.

Then it was into the water and a long, long swim. Over waves and across the long arms of seaweed. The floating course markers went out almost as far as eye could see. Until the splashes from the swimers seemed like raindrops on the horizon.

They swam for close to an hour and then returned....some at considerably slower pace. But many driving hard for the finish.

I asked a local: "Who are these people?"

"Triathletes, preparing for the next olympics."

So, this far off,
a race before the world,
and the hope of a medal and raised arms on the victor's stand
is what IS propelling these people forward day after day.

Ah, I think I understand.

And I wonder - what is propelling me?
What is calling forth endurance in my life?

"Do you see what this means?
- all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?

It means we'd better get on with it.
Strip down, start running - and never quit!

No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.
Study how he did it.

Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.

And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith,
go over over that story again, item by item,
that long litany of hostility he plowed through.

That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"*

In the swim...with you!


*Hebrews 12:1ff...The Message

1 comment:

Galen said...

I like this piece. For me, it is a help to remember that there is really so little time left. The outer-limits of this life are closing in fast. Therefore, not only must we "strip down" and get streamlined for endurance, but our works must also be stripped down, or they just won't count. We must be careful not to subtly "rewire" situations so that somehow we end up being the primary beneficiary. Usually these "embezzlements" are of the image-and-status variety, though sometimes they more resemble the mother who "loves" her child so much she won't let him grow up and acquire independence. These are of the emotional-greed variety. So, am I primarily concerned with the choreography and how I "come off?" Or am I engaging in an activity primarily for the "feel-good" vibes I can get (emotional addiction)? This is not to say that we can do good works entirely in secrecy, nor is it to say that we won't feel good about God working through us. It is to say our works can so easily be tainted by shadowy motives and goals hiding just out of view. Those are the sins that so easily beset us, not the obvious ones. As a practical matter, we may need worldly credentials to get things done in the world system. As a spiritual matter, we must never draw satisfaction from that power to get attention. Paul had credentials, and used them when necessary, but counted them as "dung." Also, I'm not sure adrenaline is desirable for a distance race. Maybe a meditative, contemplative, and deliberate calmness? Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, while the showboats end up in the ditch.