The Race of Grace

More than ten years ago, the spring snow still frozen in icy patches here and there on the yellowed grass, my body was poised in runner’s lunge on the rubbery track, every muscle quivering in anticipation. I filled my lungs with cool, spring air, and the gunshot blasted — sending me off on the 400-meter dash.

My old, weathered gym shoes methodically hit the track and my steady breathing kept time with my steps. I started out strong, like I always do in this mid-distance race, leading the pack as we rounded the first bend. Even so, it was hard to judge how I was doing when the lanes play tricks on your perception.

The straightway stretched further than I recalled and I questioned my sanity in running the race that requires an all-out sprint for the whole quarter mile — the race deemed “the killer race.” Just the thought reminded my legs how tired they already were.

Still I ran on, hoping that maybe this race would be different.

Maybe I could keep up this pace. But then appeared the ominous second bend, that place of invisible quicksand. I urged my legs onward, but I felt like I was sinking. It was the point where my lungs would give out and constrict so tightly that even though I hastened the pace of my breathing, I just couldn’t seem to get enough air.

And like a reoccurring nightmare, the runners to my left and right started to pass me one by one as I rounded the bend. I knew I wouldn’t give up, but how could I continue?

But then I saw it — a flash of red hair at the side of the track. I instantly recognized my teammate Tamara. She had finished her race in the heat just before me, but she ran back to cheer me on. With fist pumping in the air, and emotion filling her voice she cried out, “Come on, Jamie! Let’s bring it in together!”

I was instantly filled with a burst of power, and despite the burning fire in my lungs threatening to consume me, I picked up the pace, sprinting with all I had left. Tamara ran on the grass that bordered the track, never leaving my side. And when I finally crossed the finish line, in last place again, Tamara was there to wrap me in a hug and congratulate me on a job well done.

Today, I know you’re weary. You give your all day after day, but this race of life is more taxing than you ever expected.

Your feet pound the pavement, stride after strenuous stride. So why do all the runners keep passing you by with such tremendous speed? If only you could just catch your breath . . .

I know. I’ve been there too.

But when you get to that second bend, when all feels lost, you’ll see Him there — your Eternal Teammate — who has already finished His race but has come back to champion your cause. And with heavenly grace, He will call you by name, and cry out to you: “Come, my daughter, let’s bring it in together.” He knows this life is not about how swiftly you run.

This is not a race to find first place, but a race to experience His infinite grace.

So don’t stop running, and don’t stop reaching for the God who will give you breath when all your breath is gone. Look for your Redeemer, your Rescuer, your Hero, and your Champion. Because He will be there to cheer you on and to run beside you the whole way Home.

And when you cross that final finish line, He will envelop you in His eternal love and speak to you the words you’ve longed to hear all your life: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” {Matthew 25:21, KJV}

***This post was originally featured on the (in)courage website. Click here and join me over at DaySpring’s (in)courage website.

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