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Running to Stand Still

April 28, 2020

“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

Dispatches From a Suburban Parson During a Pandemic, Day 44, finds us once again in the Moravian Daily Texts. Paul, writing to that woeful bunch of believers in Corinth, is trying to encourage them back into a faith that isn’t antinomian, that doesn’t say, “anything goes!” He speaks of how runners in a race must keep their eye on the prize, lest they lose it.

It’s been a long time since I’ve run in a race, and an even longer time since I’ve won the prize (I believe the last time this happened was in 2010 at the Run ’til the Cows Come Home 5K in Pawleys Island, when I won my age category; the cowbell trophy is in my office to prove it). But I do still run. it’s become even more important during the pandemic. Three or four times a week, three to four miles a pop. Once in a while I run one or another variation of the same loop in the opposite direction. It’s like visiting a foreign country, a whole new world!

Running helps keep me centered, sane. In terms of running the race set before us, however, I can’t help but thinking that what we have to keep doing is nothing. Well, not nothing. There are many things we can and should be doing. But we are called to faithfully stay where we are; to not interact with others too much; to limit our travel; to do that which is essential, and nothing more.

This is how we run the race of faith right now. This is how we support those who are on the essential front lines, from doctors to delivery drivers and everyone in between.

It is tempting (so tempting) to start doing things again. But the race set before us is, for now, to stay where we are. Persevere.

This is a good reminder of grace, God’s bizarre promise to give us everything for nothing in return. Just believe, remembering that even faith is a gift before it is something we do. During Easter we are even more aware than usual that God makes life out of death, creates out of nothing. God hands out the prizes willy-nilly: You get forgiveness and life, and you get forgiveness and life, and you get forgiveness and life!

So do what you do to stay sane. Do what is essential. Pray for and support those on the front lines. And run the race of standing still, steeped in the grace of God that has run its way to you.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of grace, thank you for giving us everything. You have demanded nothing from us, but you call us to give everything for you and for the sake of our neighbor. Help us to rest in your grace, to run the race, and to stay in place. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Still Life with Running Shoes, Concrete, Grass. By Dave Lyle, April 28, 2020. All rights reserved.

From → COVID-19

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