“No, I do not want to race,” I replied.
“Why not? Are you afraid that I will beat you?”
“No…I am not afraid that you will beat me…I am afraid of getting injured.”
“Oh, come on! We can race just one lap around the house.”
“One lap is plenty of distance for someone to get injured…namely me.”
“Oh, come on Ryan! Race the boy!” interjected the wife of my youth.
“I will probably get sore muscles in my legs!”
“Oh Please! With all the biking that you do, I don’t think that is going to be your biggest pain. Your biggest pain will be the blow to your ego when you realize that your 8th grade son is faster than you.”
“That’s it! Fine…I will race!...Let’s go!” I barked, and then I took off without warning.
I realize that some may call this cheating. I would have to argue. Though technically I did leave before anyone “else” said go…someone in fact DID say “go.” It was me…and thus…I went. My head start garnered me at least a 10m lead before my son took up the challenge and sprinted behind me. I held the lead around the first two corners and as I came up on the North side of the home I could foresee a dilemma spread before me. The North side of our home was a muddy swamp, residual from the still melting frozen winter ground. The North side wall had been shielding the ground all spring from the penetrating and drying effects of the sun.
I made the decision to run right through the swamp, as straight as I could. My path veered wide, allowing a wide gap to my left…the “inside” of the path, that could potentially allow a would be runner…a younger runner…an 8th grade runner…a faster runner, to get past me. But, I knew better than to try and get traction and “turn” while immersed in the wet ground. The 8th grader behind me…did not.
As Isaac tried to cut in and pass me on the inside, he lost traction. His feet went out from beneath him and he landed hard onto…no…into the wet, swampy, muddy ground. I finished my race by trotting the rest of the way around the house. I was both dry and injury free, My son however, was not.
I am convinced that if Isaac had continued to follow my path. If he had gone in the exact same spot and the exact same way as I did, he would have beat me around the house. He was faster, but, I knew the way. I find a picture of what Paul is talking about in Galatians 5:13-25 here. In vs. 16 and 25, Paul says that we are to be led by the Spirit. When we try and take our own path rather than the path of the Spirit it leads to the perpetual slip in the swamp of life. So often in my life I think that I can be better if I just try harder. It is in times like this…when I lose sight of the Spirit and rely on my own strength or confidence that I find myself, “down on my backside”…in the swamp. Oh may we come to keep in step with the Spirit. May we trust in the way that He is leading.