Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Victory Lap

Yesterday afternoon was not great.  It was a weather thing.  And a hot stuffy room thing.  And a room full of people thing.  And an every window open thing that made no difference.  And a boiling point thing. And an eruption thing.   And then an overflow of heated words thing.

Whoever had the nonsense to say “words will never hurt me” obviously hasn’t come across some of the words that were spoken yesterday.  After the torrent of words ceased to flow, the speaker picked up his bag and left the room.  

I wasn’t asking for the moon.  Or the stars.  I wasn’t being unreasonable.  It was just a simple word puzzle to aid revision of some interesting ideas we had been discussing over the last few weeks.  I’d even provided the pencil. 

The pencil and the puzzle never really came in contact with one another.  The brain never really engaged, and head rested gently on the table.  Eyes were closed.  There was no sign of life.
Touching his shoulder was much like pressing a detonator on a bomb. 

I remember a visiting speaker talking about stress management.  She brought with her a bottle of coke or some such fizzy concoction.  She talked us through a typical “bad” day.  With every unkind comment said, or target not met, or every time the photocopier jammed, or cup of coffee spilt or toe stepped on – she shook the bottle just a little.
“Do you want to open the bottle?”

I was on the receiving end of someone else’s shook up bottle – and the lid was off.
I can never just shake these moments off.  I run the incident over and over in my head, trying to come up with some scenario that didn’t end with angry words and a storming out of the room.  I look at faces of other people, higher up the management scale, to see if they think I could have handled it differently.  The boy, apparently, is a nice boy and nice boys don’t do that kind of thing.

I wasn’t up to my usual body stretching class at the end of the day.  The invisible bruises were throbbing.  I went home and made a cup of tea.  Rather than perform an autopsy on the afternoon, I  opened my Bible.  I have been reading slowly through Jonah and felt myself to be a tossed into stormy seas with no whale in sight to rescue me.
My soul was seeking comfort and solace and I found myself reading the last few lines of Isaiah 40. As I read the phrase “they will run and not grow weary,” the picture came to mind of a Olympic medal winner with his country’s flag draped around his shoulders running a victory lap.

Running the actual race and running a victory lap are very different kinds of running.  There are times when the faith walk is the race – with all the training beforehand, and the speed and the stamina of running the race.  Other times we have to run the victory lap – we have to remind ourselves that the medal is already won for us.  We clothe ourselves not in a country’s flag but in the robe of righteousness given us by God.  It’s not the national anthem that is blasting out of the speaker – but the applause of a whole host of witnesses in the heavenly relams.
I will not say my way is hid
Or that You do not see
I will not say You close Your eyes
To things that trouble me
I know…I’ve heard, Creator God
A truth that will not die
Times when the world would wear me down
This is my battle cry
Strength and power are mine to claim
I fix my hope in You
Refreshed, I soar and run and walk
I'm blessed in all I do

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