I guess most people would call me a late bloomer. I was eight when I learned how to ride a bike. I didn’t learn how to judge a fly ball until two years after I stopped playing little league.
I still remember the cheers of my teammates—when they heard I had been cut from the team. No worries–honestly, I was just as relieved and excited as they were about the whole matter.
I was eighteen before I received my driver’s license and my parents bought me my first car. (Man, I loved that old, beat-up car.) And it wasn’t until several months after that when I started dating.
Even though I was saved as a young boy, as a teenager I turned away from “church” and “religious people,” and I let my relationship with God stagnate until I was in my mid-twenties.
I ended my college career with a Masters degree, eight years after I started.
Sometime in my late twenties, I gave God a deadline that I absolutely had to be married by the time I was 30 (and I fully expect him to explain to me someday how funny that joke was). Turns out, I was less than three weeks from my 31st birthday when I married my bride.
And when our first child was born three years ago, I realized that I was a year older than my dad was when he was done having children.
Don’t even get me started about my 401(k).
For the most part, I never worried much about feeling “behind” on many of these different aspects of my life. Eventually, I got there, and that was what was important, right? “Better late than never,” and all that?
If there was one aspect I felt good about, it was my spiritual walk with Christ. Yes, I had gotten off-track in my teenage years, but I turned myself around in my twenties and was growing in my relationship with Him. I was finally ahead of the curve in something. At least, I thought I was.
But now I see that I have been missing a vital ingredient to real growth in Christ: a sense of urgency. (It’s no surprise that becoming responsible for a tiny person was a big part of that sudden revelation.) If you’ll bear with me for one baby analogy: I was like a baby who is learning to crawl and pulls his knees up, bottom in the air, only to push out with his legs—and go absolutely nowhere. I thought I was moving forward, closer to Him, but apparently not so much.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt 5:6, ESV)
Without that sense of urgency, the clarity that time is short and the road is long, I was only trying to convince myself that I was thirsting for the “living water” of which He often spoke when in fact I was gorging myself at the world’s buffet.
Recently I reread one of Paul’s references to “running the race” and realized that’s where I now find myself—fairly weak-legged, out of shape and bloated, perhaps, but in the race of my life nonetheless.
In the last Olympics, there was one track event that has stuck in my mind. In one of the men’s 1500 m semifinals, a Canadian runner fell on his face with 600 m to go. Everyone else dodged around him and the cameras continued to follow the pack leaders; however, at the edge of the screen, I saw that runner pick himself up and continue on. In a later interview, he said, “I knew it was over. With a hundred meters to go, I just felt like breaking down and walking off the track.” But he didn’t. He finished the race for which he had been training so long. He missed the finals by less than four seconds, but he finished. Even though the commentators and the camera operators seemed not to notice, I had to go learn more about that runner. Maybe I recognized something of myself in him.
I haven’t been running my race as strongly as I would have liked and I’ve had to pick myself up (with His help) more than once. And now, once again, I have some catching up to do. But I know that the finish line is just around the corner and there’s nothing left to do but to run full tilt towards Him. And to finish in the best way that I can.
In this world of purchase
I’m going to buy back memories
To awaken some old qualities
Have I got a long way to run
Have I got a long way to run
–Collective Soul, “Run”
If you know someone who is struggling to run their race–for whatever reason–would you email them this post to encourage them?