TIME. Spring 2019 | Page 33

a perfect God might be real? Utterly spent by this crest of fury, the man settled to his knees. There wasn’t much left for him to do, it seemed. It was clear that he would get nowhere simply running forward in the same fashion. And so he resolved to push forth one last time, casting aside every little weight in a final effort to catch that light. That attempt ended, of course, where this story began, with the man lying prostrate in the grime. Let’s take a moment to reflect here, brothers and sisters. Consider what it was that caused the man’s failures. As the man strains to raise his right arm from the mud’s clutch, something gives way. Perhaps it is his arm, his spine, his ribs; he can’t tell. All of a sudden, everything is washed away. Frustrations with his condition, ambitions to finish the race, all of it uprooted and caught up in a white-hot flood of pain. And it doesn’t recede either. Something is deeply wrong. The man isn’t really surprised; the human body wasn’t made for the stresses that he put it through, after all. But in the ab- sence of surprise there is still despair, as he realizes that all his efforts earlier have amounted to nothing, now that he’s stuck here, body broken and useless and half-buried in the dirt. So he gives up. He threw everything he had at the race, and has nothing to show for it. He lets his limbs sink back into the clinging mud and sobs into the ground. The man stews in self-pity, casting his mind back and cursing every little misfor- tune that came his way during the race. He fumes and fumes and fumes until he is truly, truly spent. In this dark place, what is there left to do but pray? With no hope left and all the passion stamped out of him, the man finally reaches out to God and implores Him to please lift me from this place please show me how I can finish this race should I finish this race you were so good to me at the beginning why did you abandon me why am I so alone God please please please He struggles to even find the words to say, the pain is so great. It is here that, as He promised, the Holy Spirit begins to inter- cede on the man’s behalf with groanings too deep for words. Somewhere, the Lord hears these pleading cries, and he an- swers thus: The man sees, even through his closed eyes, a shining bril- liance, and for a moment his heart stops as he entertains the impossible notion that the light he was chasing for so long has turned around and come to him. But when he finally musters up the willpower to wrench his head off the ground and open his eyes, he sees that the light is everywhere: not just in front of him or behind him or even all around him. It is in him, deeply entwined and interwoven with his very flesh. How could he have missed this? If the very light he had so eagerly pursued had been running with him all along, what then was the pur- pose of the race? What was the race really? Was there even a race at all? As he considers these questions, the man casts his eyes upward in amazement at this revelation and sees that he was not only surrounded by the light all along, but also by a vast cloud of witnesses, a crowd filled with faithful men and women vaguely familiar to him. These heavenly onlookers gaze at him loving- ly, eagerly, awaiting his every decision. Shaking his head, the man closes his eyes once again, in won- der this time, not despair. Seeing now Who it was that ac- companied him, he cannot understand why he had relied so heavily on himself. And witnessing with his own eyes the peo- ple who had run this race to its finish before him, he cannot understand why he had relinquished hope so absolutely. For the first time since the race had begun, the man rests. Jeremy Wang is a freshman intending to concentrate in Computational Biology. 33