This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see a new part of New Zealand as I joined a team of ladies taking part in an adventure race. And by join, I mean I went along for the ride and no part of my contribution included white water rafting, cycling or hiking. I will add that I did try to sign up for the race when I first heard about it and I will also admit that I was secretly happy that it was already booked out by this stage. Phew!
The race was up at the top of the South Island, at an area called Golden Bay. Here are some photos from some of the free time that we had.
What beauty! While in Golden Bay, I had some time to think and of course, between the transition periods of the race, I could not help but think about THE RACE. I was very fortunate to be part of such a fun support team where myself and two other family members of the ladies, had many laughs over coffees and treats. It was relaxing and comfortable inside from the rain. We were sheltered, full and did not have to break one single sweat as we thought of those outside -embracing their environment and challenging their minds and bodies. Although, it was lovely to be in the cosy environment that I first mentioned, I couldn’t help but think about being in the other.
I am reminded of how we each take part in the race that is life. Paul speaks about this in both Philippians and 1 Corinthians. He urges us to ‘run that you may obtain the prize‘, to ‘press on toward the goal’ and to ‘run with endurance the race that is set before us.’! I remember when I trained for a marathon a few years ago and pondering these words in my head as I ran pathways throughout Limerick city. There is great application for our lives in these. The call to strive in the things set before us- in our homes, schools, work place, churches, relationships and ultimately in our relationship with Christ. The language used strips out any thoughts of complacency or halfhearted. Just like in training, you pursue and intentionally spend your time preparing for the challenges of the race, and to ultimately reach a finish line. Many of us don’t simply sign up for such a race and then due to lack of motivation or effort, decide that the training is irrelevant. We want our mind and bodies to indeed be prepared for those moments that are steep and muddy and just plain scary! And it is so tough! It can be the most physically and mentally difficult thing you might ever take part in! But you know what, it is better than sitting in that warm, cosy cafe engaging in the comfortable and pleasurable! How is that possible? Because the reward is so much better! At the end of the finish line, no matter the pain endured, the obstacles tackled and moments of frustration, you have finished well. You ran the race.
We can all probably admit to wanting a comfy life whether its in the material, the status or the relationships that surround us. No one really wants to jump up at the first sign of pain, and say ‘yes! it is here, I can face this now and perhaps learn something through it!’. If anything, we do all that we can to avoid trials of any sort. We don’t want our warm, comfortable environment to be disrupted….well, at least I don’t. But God knows that we will face hardships in life at some stage or another. He says to ‘consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials…’ (James 1.2-4). He doesn’t say ‘if’, He says ‘whenever’. What is our response to this? Do we decide to be persistent in our training and continue to take part in the race? Do we sit back and just see how it all works out, without even breaking a sweat or lifting a finger?
As the saying goes, you must be in it to win it! Are we even in the race? Are we striving and pursuing a relationship with God that allows us to think of Him and others more than our own comforts? Are we training for those challenging obstacles along our path by putting into practice the things that we might hear on a Sunday morning? Are we enjoying those moments of satisfaction and fulfilment when we reach a summit that gives us a breathtaking view and outlook to our surroundings? Are we motivated to take part and are we willing to start running ?
The reward is greater than the comforts. The pain is worth the sacrifice of some pleasures. God is worthy to run towards every single day of our lives -the summits and the valleys. He calls us to run, not walk. He calls us towards Him, and not ‘aimlessly’ (1 Corinthains 9). So run the race!
Here is a photo of these three ladies at the end of their finish line!
What an inspiration!
May I simply note here that although I talk about it being better to take part in the race, I do not want reminders of this blog post this time next year, when I’m planning all the cafes to visit during the race. Vive la “support team!”