Relay Race

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 108; 150, Numbers 27:12-23, Acts 19:11-20, Mark 1:14-20


One of the hardest lessons of faith is learning to trust that God will come through, but not always according to our preferred schedule – or in our lifetime. As the nation of Israel drew nearer and nearer to entering the promised land, God reminded Moses that, because of past disobediences, Moses would not be entering it with them. After forty years of wandering, Moses must have found the disappointment almost unbearable. Can we imagine, were we to be in Moses’s sandals, not clinging to some sliver of hope that God might relent and let us in, if only for a day? Yet Moses chose to trust God and contribute to a smooth transition in leadership.

From the decades wandering in the desert, to the church being established in Acts, to our modern day, faith is a community experience. Our current vocabulary around faith emphasizes personal salvation, and that is an element of it, but the peace we pray for and the justice we long for are not personal but communal transformations. Maturing in that faith includes recognizing when it is time to pass the torch. Projects and missions near and dear to our hearts may not be fully realized in our own lifetimes. A narrow, individual perspective interprets this as failure, but a faith founded in community – in the eternal Body of Christ – invests hope in the long game.

Whether we are retiring from ministry or can no longer find time to serve as bake sale coordinator, merely stepping aside is not enough; when possible we should work to ease the transition for both our community and the person assuming our burden. When the Lord named Joshua as Moses’s successor, Moses presented him to the congregation, and personally commissioned him to lead the people. How humbling it must have been for Moses to admit the people could enter the promised land with or without him. Yet for a long time he was God’s chosen instrument of liberation and survival, and there must have been immense satisfaction as well.

Faith is not a sprint, or a marathon, but a relay race.

Comfort: You alone are not responsible for the fate of the world.

Challenge: When it is time to pass along your responsibilities, do so with grace.

Prayer: Eternal God, teach me to appreciate the time and tasks you have given me, as well as the opportunity to rest in your peace. Amen.

Discussion: Do you have trouble letting other people do things their own way?

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