He was at least 90 years old, running up the hill by our home, holding a bag of grapefruit in one hand and a baton in the other. Lean and long and determined, with a highly decorated Veterans cap on his head. I'm guessing this ancient warrior had run down to the farmers stand this morning, down to the corner to grab his breakfast, and was now on his way home to cut it open and sprinkle sugar over each segmented slice.
But it was the baton that caught my attention. 12 inches of PVC piping. Maybe he was anticipating a mountain lion or a pack of coyotes still up after a fruitless night of hunting. And he was ready. This man who probably fought in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, now running at a snail's pace, all sinewy and alert, still ready for an attack. Back and forth the baton traveled, as he pumped his arms, cased in thin flesh. Back and forth.
And I traveled past him in my Dodge Durango, up the hill to my home. Pumping my own baton, back and forth. Having dropped two kids off at school and returning now to teach the third at our dinning room table. The laundry piled high, the refrigerator in need of cleaning, the sound of conference calls slipping out from under the door to my husband's home office. Swinging my club like I'm entering a war zone, ready for battle.
But I'm not.
Not in a battle. Though challenges await. No one's heart is bent on attacking me. And I think on the man who's known real war, and anticipates it each new day. I don't want to run that way. Just because there have been challenges in the past. I don't want to enter my home swinging like today holds a fight rather than a houseful of blessings and loved ones.
This thing in my hand is not my protective weapon to club a kid with learning challenges down. This is not a tool of defense to use against my spouse. This is not a bludgeoning stick to inflict pain, so desperate to protect myself from the same. The baton in my hand is the baton of a runner not a warrior. A runner in a long distance relay race, because I don't run it alone.
And the image of the old man running on rail thin legs, pumping his arms with a battle-ax in hand, drove me to my knees in the garage just now. "Lord, help me not to swing it hard in a posture of offense or defense, but swing it joyfully knowing that I'm running this race with you. Running this race in the power of Your Spirit each day, up the hill both ways sometimes.
It's the start of another week, dear friends. The beginning of another race, or another leg in the ceaseless marathon we call life. But it's not a battle. So repurpose with me those swinging arms and the baton in your hand. Repurpose your mind, and put it on right thinking. Swing hard and run fast and look forward; not to avoid the dangers coming against you from without and within, but to swing and to pump and to breathe heavy in your mad dash to Him.
Pass the baton in exchange for His strength; pass it early on in this new day and new week, that He might run the longest stretches. Pass the baton in exchange for His perspective on life and love and each heart in our homes today.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...
Question: What's in your hand today? A club ready to fight or a baton to be passed? Let's cheer one another on!