I’m normally fat. Obese. Overweight. And I like eating. So I’m I always doing something that will allow me to eat and lose weight. Or at least not gain anymore. Right now I’m doing the P90x deal. In the past I’ve done weight watchers, juiced, dieted, etc. For a while I was on a running kick. I was doing 5 miles a few times a week. I’m disciplined at times, not so disciplined at others. And I get bored easily. So sticking to one plan just doesn’t work well with me. Oh yeah, and my wife is skinny. She mainly eats chocolate while I work out.
It was a pretty normal day. I took my son to the county recreation department for baseball practice. There is a track that circles all the fields. While he practiced I would run laps. It was the beginning of Spring so lots of people were there. Spring sports were getting started for all ages. The run wasn’t too bad. Except for this one spot. It was horrible. In one particular area of the track there was a little troll…I mean girl. Freckles covered her soft white face. Her wildly red hair was desperately trying to free itself from her head. And she was riding a bike.
At first this little girl seemed cute. When I approached her bridge, I mean her spot, she decided it would be fun to race me. I don’t run fast. She passes me and leaves me in the dust of her bicycle. Then she looks back at me like I’m the tortoise and she is the hare. She stops. I approach her in my normal gait. She says nothing. I smile and continue on to the next lap.
Unbeknownst to me a game has begun. In this game I am always the loser. Each time I make the loop she is waiting on me. And each time she humiliates me with her bicycle and youthful seven year old speed. I am convinced she is mocking me. I’m pretty sure she is talking trash to all her friends as well. “Hey watch me beat Big Boy when he gets here” she is likely saying. So I begin to get a little intimidated. I didn’t ask for this. Part of me wants to try and outrun her. But I’m weighing my options. Maybe I could outrun her. But what if I didn’t? I mean then all those kids would be laughing at me then. And I would likely see this girl again. I don’t know if I could show my face back at the Rec field after that. So I thought the best thing I could do was just keep cool. Maintain my pace. So that’s what I did.
As I made my way around for another lap I dreaded the approach to Raggedy Ann. I was tired. I was breathing hard. My feelings were hurt. But I pressed on.She was waiting on me. She backed up behind me, sped off in front of all of her family and friends and left me in the dust…again. But something different happened this time. When I approached her she spoke to me. I bet you can’t guess what she said. I was hoping for an apology or a compliment on my calves. But I didn’t get that. She said very confidently & mockingly “I’m going faster than you!” She was an observant little thing, I’ll give her that. the only thing missing from her comment was a “Na, na, na, boo, boo”.
I nodded my head in agreement with her acute assessment of the situation. Then a smile curled my lips. A thought popped into my mind. I told myself “Yes you are going FASTER than me, but I’m going FURTHER than you!” And that little thought encouraged me. I finished my run a little more confidently. I’m not sure where that little girl is today. I’m thinking she is probably incarcerated somewhere. But I do know that the Lord taught me a lesson that day that has stuck with me. If I look around it’s easy to find people that seem to be going faster than me. It seems their church is growing at a faster rate. They are being recognized in their field by their contemporaries. It appears they are doing overnight what I haven’t been able to accomplish in years. If I put my eyes on these folks it’s easy to get discouraged. I’m tempted even to stop running the race. It’s then that I need to remember that ultimately it’s not about how fast I run but how far I run. I know many that started out fast but aren’t even in the race anymore.
To be honest, I’m not real good at this ministry thing. And honestly I do feel mocked. I often feel like many of my contemporaries are passing me by. And I dread “passing by” some of them sometimes. They seem to do so much better than I do. And Satan reminds me on a regular basis of how slow, under qualified and foolish I am. And perhaps I am all of those things. But I’m going to keep running. I’m not going to quit. You see the bottom line is that many may go faster than us. But no one can go further than us. Because the finish line is Christ Himself. That’s where we are all heading. We may have to pass some troll bridges on the way. But let’s not let that discourage us. Keep running. And ignore the little red heads. (Hebrews 12:1)