Saturday, June 3, 2023

 No Wonder

I spent the day at the Minnesota Section 8AA Track and Field meet today.  Every time the starting gun sounded, 8 individuals would leave their starting position and race for the finish line.  Whether it was a mere 100m or lengthy 3200m separating them from the final results, every race shared the same suspense and unknown answer to the question, “Who would win?”

It was not until the very end of each event that the winner would be proclaimed.  I found myself filled with stress and anxiety as these athletes ,that I know and care about, took their turn to compete.  I longed for everything to go right for them.  I wanted them to perform well, to run well, jump well and throw well…especially when my own children were involved. 

It seemed to me that the greater the hope of grandeur and the uncertainty of its consummation, the greater my anxiety.  As I watched my daughter compete in her shot put, I wondered what the outcome would be.  Would she achieve her goal? Would she finally hit the mark that she hasdbeen striving for all year?

When my son took the track, along with his good friend Hank, for their chance to advance to the state meet in the 4x200 and the 4x400, I was consumed with stress.  I could feel the tension in my neck and the anxiety in my stomach.  I began to ponder, “How would I feel if I knew the outcome first?” Would I be more relaxed if I knew that everything was going to be ok and they would achieve the preferred outcome that they…and I…desired?

I remember the summer of 2021, when the delayed Tokyo Olympics finally took place.  True to form I tuned in as much as I could to the track and field events and perhaps even more so…the wrestling matches.  We happened to be in Michigan visiting my wife’s parents during this time, and so I had the pleasure of, “forcing” my in-laws to watch all of the wrestling matches…a sport of which they knew nothing about.

The disappointing reality arose in that the ONE match that I really wanted to watch…Gabel Steveson’s gold medal match, was going to take place DURING our drive back to Minnesota!  My wife, Sarah, graciously offered to help get the match prepped on our “smart” TV when we got home, so that I wouldn’t be confronted with any spoilers before watching the match. 

This seemed simple enough.  All was going just as planned…until…as we passed through the Twin Cities on I-694, at which point a huge electronic billboard suddenly flashed, “GABEL WINS GOLD!!”  Needless to say, knowing the final outcome removed all would-be suspense.   

Interestingly, however, watching the match having known the result was surprisingly enjoyable and even tranquil.  After amassing a significant 4-0 lead at the half, Gabel saw that lead evaporate.  Suddenly Steveson was trailing 5-8 in the match with only 13 seconds remaining.  To anyone who understands wrestling…this is insurmountable…it is impossible…it could never happen…there is no way to win…the match is OVER!  Yet, I already KNEW the result.  I knew that he wins, yet I could not imagine or figure out how in the world Steveson was going to pull this off.  I glued my eyes to the TV, in awe, as I watched the USA wrestler take down his opponent from Georgia, (the country, not the state), TWICE in the next 13 seconds, scoring his final points with 0.3 seconds escaping on the clock and actually winning the match 9-8. 

I can’t help but see a strong correlation to Paul’s expression to the Thessalonian church.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11, Paul reveals the spoiler…the outcome…which is that we get to live together with Him!!  Believers do not need to be surprised by the outcome.  We know that Jesus wins!  We may see it as impossible, yet we know the final result.  We may struggle to see how God will do what he promised or perhaps struggle as we see the proverbial “score” only get worse and worse…falling farther and farther behind…making these more and more hopeless. 

Perhaps, it is time to live with our eyes fixed on the final outcome and eagerly wait and anticipate the wonder…of not having to wonder who is going to win! 

May you find yourself tuned in and awake…ready to watch the wonders of God.

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