by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca), Kingston, Ontario, October 2006
The references to a race in the New Testament refer to our life journey. "Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). "Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it" (1 Corinthians 9:24). "I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course" (Acts 20:2). These call us to perseverance in the ministry we have to perform.
But there are some who imagine the Christian life must be a continual rush. They are in a hurry to quote the texts that will bring others to faith. Instead of completing a proper training, there is a rush to get out to the mission field. They have no time for social conversation, they read little, they avoid the arts, and they narrow their life down to a very unappealing kind of Bible thumping.
This is where a racehorse helps to focus on what really counts. Most of the time a thoroughbred is free to roll on the grass, gambol across the meadow, enjoy the daisies, raise a family. But she is bred and trained for racing. And when the race begins nothing else matters except getting ahead of the pack and first across the line.
Similarly in our Christian life there are times when we know the supreme importance of doing what we are trained to do. A racehorse knows the difference between a relaxed training run and the preparation for a big race. She can tell her jockey is now going to demand every ounce of her strength and total commitment to the task. As he urges her on, he will say the words she needs to hear. He may use his whip, not because he wants to hurt her but to help her win the race.
Most of life goes on with the ordinary needs that we share with other ordinary people. It is when faced with a superhuman task that we know we can let the Holy Spirit empower us. We hear the words of Scripture we have learned. And at times the Lord may seem cruel in his demands. Such moments do not happen every day. Most of the time, like the racehorse in the paddock, we look and behave like others, but it is the test that proves what we really are.