TIME. Spring 2019 | Page 32

finitely worthier than anything they had known before. And so they ran, not knowing where the race would take them, each following their own path through sprawling grasslands and scorching deserts, through rolling hills and suffocating jungles. This latest runner was an ambitious one. From the start, he ran with all his heart, soul, mind and strength; foot in front of foot, step by step he ran. Filled with the sheer joy of the race, he stretched out his strides and reeled in the light, leav- ing his companions behind in the dust. His family, unable to keep up with his relentless pace, gradually fell behind. Soon, those that began the race with him, his church family, also faded from view. All this escaped his notice; as he drew close to that light, it whispered tenderly to him, spoke of love, of grace, of a never-ending peace, and his burning desire for the fulfillment of these promises drowned out everything around him. How he yearned for that promised rest. And so, heedless of the the shifting ground beneath his feet, wilfully ignoring the heavy clothes on his back, he sprinted recklessly onward. coming weeks, and the man learned countless lessons from his countless failures. In the deserts, heat stroke struck him down. Deep among the marshes, air denser than water stifled him. Upon the jagged rocks of the cliffs, slicing shards left him near hamstrung. Eventually, he learned to stay away from these places, to stick to the forests and the plains, to place his feet carefully, to be ever alert. But as quickly as the lessons came, so quickly did his original passion depart, until the man felt hol- lowed out by these unending trials, until a seed of resentment was planted in his heart. And the watchers sighed in resignation, for they had seen it all before. Without fail, the runners of this race burned fierce- ly at the start. Test them with narrow roads and many trials, though, and only a few would persevere. All that remained to the witnesses was to watch and to hope. Thus did the man struggle, bitterly, as if alone, sadly unaware of both his grand, faithful audience and the greater Presence which ran close beside. It came as no surprise, then, when he fell. Seeing now Who it was Soon, the man began to question his very par- He could feel his steps slowing, but he could that accompanied him, ticipation in the race. The niggling concerns not understand why, when the light was only he cannot understand came slowly at first. Why did he leave behind meters away. Surging forward, he pushed his comfortable home? Why did he trade why he had relied so past whatever obstacle held him back, and that perfectly normal lifestyle for this race heavily on himself. through sheer force of will, he kept his legs with neither beginning nor end, fraught with moving forward. Then came the moment when he hung in danger and without even the pettiest of petty joys: food and the air, suspended for but a fraction of a second, and in that sleep? As they continued unanswered, his questions began to briefest of instants, as his head flew forward and his feet were intensify, to grow in anger and frustration. Why was the light anchored in place, the man felt nothing but frustration. so much faster than him? Why in the world was he never good enough to catch up? These questions reached into his darkening heart The tangling thorns finally had him firmly in their clutch, and and dredged up all of the banked frustration, the anger at his he slammed to the ground in a painfully abrupt stop. Winded earlier falls, the unique disgust which arises only from passion and momentarily disoriented, the man lay sprawled there for curdled and twisted and spoiled into hatred. Why did he heed an eternal moment. But driven by that still-fresh desire, he a single word of those fools who told him of a joyous, reward- dragged himself to his feet, dusted himself off and continued. ing race? Why would he trust that tiny whisper of hope in his This happened time and time again over the course of the heart, hope that those absurd promises of an eternal life with 32 Spring 2019