Thursday, July 28, 2016

the grace of God that only time can tell -- part 1

The Word for today:
Nehemiah 9:1-21
(Note:  This article was originally published on this date in 2010.)
The Bible often reviews the past in order to make sense of the present and to emphasize God's constant faithfulness. We, too, can be blessed with spiritual perspective when we take time to review the scene in our personal "rear view mirrors."
Over the next couple of days, as Nehemiah chapter 9 recounts the history of God's faithfulness, we urge you to recall your own personal journey with God, and to note the sense and shape that the long view lends our lives. Toward that end, Franklyn will recount from his own life the grace of God that only time can tell.   
This past Sunday, we took Frankie and Eddy to a track/cross-country camp in western Pennsylvania. Because we had to be there, I could not attend an event in my hometown. But I managed to get back just as things were winding down.
The event I missed was a re-enactment, in honor of a relay record that I and seven of my high school teammates achieved 42 years ago. We'd run 100 miles in bursts of 100, 200, and 400 meters--actually, it was yards in those days. The record still stands, so a race was organized to both honor our feat and de-feat it, all on the same day!
Even though we arrived in the event's waning moments, when only a few of the teams remained on the track, when the vendors and the band and the officials and the timers were beginning to pack their gear away, I was impressed by the scene. And I got the biggest kick out of an overblown picture, prominently displayed, of our very young selves in our old-time track spikes and our immortal smiles.
Shelley asked if I'd like to take a stroll around the track before we left. We walked together slowly. Something in me didn't want to finish this, my single 400 meter commemorative lap. I was wishing that I could set a world record for the slowest lap of all time. In the mild light of the setting sun, my most-beautiful-in-the-world wife was the most beautiful that she had ever -- that anyone could have ever -- been.
I'd hurt myself badly, deeply on that record-setting day long ago. The oddest thing was that I didn't know it until the next day. But thereafter, to one degree or another, I limped through the rest of my high school races. I remained fast, and mighty fast, but I would never be as fast as I was going to be.
Then it occurred to me, as I walked along, trying to stretch that backstretch out to forever, that Eddy is precisely, to the very day, the same age as I was in late June of 1968 when we had run the relay that would eventually bring us all back to the Emmet Belknap track.
The mental gymnastics necessary to make that calculation must have dislodged an array of memories long unvisited. Like a slide show in my head, pictures started to fill the stretches of years and decades. Faces took their places, lining up in their respective relationships to time. Some of them I'd forgotten. Some I'd forgotten on purpose.
My long lap now over, I looked to see if any of the old team were still there. They'd been ceremonially introduced that morning. And, I am told, they'd even led a ceremonial first lap before the relay teams cut loose. But that had been long hours ago; none of them were still around.
{"The grace of God that only time can tell" will conclude tomorrow in this space.}

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