Saturday, April 10, 2010

Running the Race

Like many people today I had a little flutter on the Grand National. It’s only a little flutter – not a monthly wage packet, or the entire contents of my saving account…actually, right now that would qualify as a small flutter too. I admit to having some concerns about the race – there are a lot of runners, and a lot of fences, and a lot of horses fall, and a lot of jockeys take a tumble. I seem to remember one year the animal rights people doing something to get the race abandoned – or am I making that bit up? My husband, a man who knows horses and the betting game quite well, is of the opinion that if the horses didn’t enjoy the race they wouldn’t participate. He is also of the opinion that you just need to look at the horse at the end of the race to know whether it enjoyed the experience or not. Talking is not the only form of communication.

Hebrew’s 12:1 reminds us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

I have to confess that not only am I possibly not running any more, I am not even sure that I am walking. I think I might have just got off my horse, built a house somewhere between The Canal Turn (Fence 8) and St Valentine’s Brook (Fence 9) and planted a vegetable garden.

I have been reading the book of Ezra over the last few weeks. The people headed back to Jerusalem, after seventy years in exile in Babylon. Cyrus, a king that didn’t really know God, but had his heart touched by God anyway, had given them permission to leave, to rebuild the temple and make sacrifices to keep the royal family safe.

I guess that would be like the 40 Grand National horses setting off at a gallop towards the first fence. They left the starting line armed with enthusiasm and excitement – a cavalry charge heading to Jerusalem, to rescue and rebuild the temple. They just hadn’t anticipated the obstacles between them and the finishing line. I don’t think for a moment they thought it would be a stroll through the park – but there was so much rubble, so little temple remains and so many hostile neighbours to deal with.

Enthusiasm wasn’t enough – it never is.

Work stopped for a good sixteen years. Not only was the temple not getting built, but all the materials that could have been used to build the temple were being used to build their own homes.

Entrance Stage Left – Haggai. He was a man who was on stage for four months, who preached just four sermons over four days. He didn’t say anything that the people wanted to hear, but everything that they needed to hear. No one wanted to listen, but they just couldn’t help themselves. Haggai got to them. They picked up their tools and went back to work.

I need Haggai. I need him to tell me to abandon the house I have built between the two fences, with its vegetable garden, climb back into the saddle and finish the race!

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