A PARABLE OF THE RACE

 Once upon a time, in a land of boredom and drudgery, exciting news spread. “There’s going to be a race! And all who run this race will grow strong and they’ll never be bored again!” Exciting news like this had not been heard for many a year, for people experienced little adventure in this ho-hum land, beyond attending committee meetings, waiting in lines, sorting socks and watching sitcom reruns.

Excitement grew as the day of the race drew near. Thousands gathered in the appointed town, and the appointed place. Most came to observe, sceptical about the news. “It’s too good to be true,” they said. “It’s just a silly rumour started by some teenaged troublemakers. But let’s stick around and see what happens anyway.”

Others could not resist the temptation, arriving in their running shorts and shoes. As they waited for the appoint ted time, they stretched and jogged in place and chattered among themselves with nervous excitement. At the appointed time they gathered at the starting line, heard the gun go off, and knew that it was time to run.

Then something very curious happened. The runners took a step or two or three across the starting line, and then abruptly stopped. One man fell to his knees, crying, “I have crossed the starting line! This is the happiest day of my life!” He repeated this again and again, and even began singing a song about how happy this day was for him.

Another woman started jumping for joy. “Yes!” she shouted, raising her fist in the air. “I am a race-runner! I am finally a race-runner!” She ran around jumping and dancing, getting and giving high fives to others who shared her joy at being in the race.

Several people formed a circle and prayed, quietly thanking God that they were not like the sceptics who didn’t come dressed for the race.

An hour passed, and two. Spectators began muttering; some laughed. “So what do they think this race is?” they said. “Two or three strides, then a celebration? And why do they feel superior to us? They’re treating the starting line as if it were a finish line. They’ve completely missed the point.”

A few more minutes of this silliness passed. “You know,” a spectator said to the person next to her, “if they’re not going to run the race, maybe we should.”

“Why not? It’s getting boring watching them hang around just beyond the starting line. I’ve had enough boredom for one life.”

Others heard them, and soon many were kicking off their dress shoes, slipping out of their jackets, throwing all this unneeded clothing on the grass. And they ran – past the praying huddles and past the crying individuals and past the jumping high-fivers. And they found hope and joy in every step, and they grew stronger with every mile and hill. To their surprise, the path never ended – because in this race, there was no finish line. So they were never bored again.

Some questions float into my mind. Is salvation a one-time experience or is it a life-time journey? Is it about rescue from uncomfortable circumstances, or rescue from this world after death? Or is it about being rescued from a life that is disconnected from God and God’s adventure, both in this life and the next? Is salvation about stepping across a line – or is it about crossing a starting line to begin an unending adventure in this life and beyond?

 

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