Grab that baton and run for your life!

by Danica

It’s Monday the 24th of August and Day 3 of my fast, and I’m feeling pretty darn good about my weekend. A normal Saturday would have consisted of me sitting in or on my bed checking Facebook, checking emails, reading webcomics and watching a load of Youtube videos. Then, when that was done, I’d sit in front of the TV watching a movie or browsing TV channels while I waited for my piano students to arrive for their lessons (neither of them came on Saturday, by the way, so I guess this weekend was an unexpected breather for me).

Over this weekend, though, I had so much time to myself and I had no idea what to do. I had homework to complete, notes to read, group assessment meetings to organise, a scarf to knit (that I wanted to finish before our now-ending winter ended), and books to finish, but, I still didn’t know what to do. I was being a lazy couch potato, but I now realise that this fast is not just a break from the things that used to unnecessarily consume all of my time. Instead, this fast is a chance for me to run faster than I have ever run before!

When I was in primary school and high school [at Bethel] I used to be really active in athletics. I was able to throw the shot or the discus the furthest. I jumped the longest in long jump, and the highest in high jump. I’d run the 100m in a reasonable time and come first. My ‘amazing’ results sent me to Zone every year, but when I threw, jumped or ran against the girls from the other schools, I couldn’t actually throw that far, I couldn’t actually jump that high, and I wasn’t actually that fast. Needless to say, I always came last (I was lucky if I came 2nd last).

For the purpose of this blog post, and because life is a race that we are running (not a heavy metal ball that we are throwing), let’s focus on the 100 metre event and ignore all the other events.

It took me a while to realise that I was only fast compared to the girls at school ’cause they all ran like girls. They deliberately ran slow ’cause they didn’t want to go to Zone. They didn’t want to seem athletic or energetic to the boys or to the teachers. They didn’t want to ruin their hair. They ran fully clothed in the winter sports uniform – trackpants and jumper. They ran in Chuck Taylors. Basically, the girls at my school had a reputation for being timid, girly, ‘weak’ and, as the Filipinos call it, maarte (Pronounced ‘ma-ARE-teh’. Meaning picky, choosy, fussy, high-maintenance. More definitions can be found on the web at Yahoo! Answers and at Tagalog Lang).

(For the record, I love the girls I went to school with at Bethel – my grade and the grades above and below my grade. This is not a hate-rant against them or anything. Being with them turned me into a bit of a maarte girl, too. In retrospect, high school turned me into a timid biatch, but I would not have wanted high school to be any other way.)

Participating in the 100m at Zone was completely different to participating in it at our own school athletics carnival. Some schools had actually made shirts that were to be specifically worn at events like Zone. They weren’t T-shirts made of heavy cotton – they were tank tops made of polyester which allowed the wearer’s body to breathe through the material. Some kids didn’t use regular cross-trainers – they ran in spikes. They trained regularly. The last time I would’ve have gone for a run was at the school athletics carnival a month prior. The kids from the other schools took Zone seriously, and I was obviously no match for them.

I’ve been in several connect groups within GFRESH. As I matured and as GFRESH matured, I was moved from one connect group to another, from under the wing of one connect leader to the wing of another. It might not sound spiritually healthy for me, but the moving has helped me grow, believe it or not. Let me explain.

While I was in high school, I fell into the TORCH category, or high school ministry, of GFRESH. My fellow connect girls were also in high school, but most of them were years younger than me. The last TORCH connect group I was in, I was in Year 12 while the other girls were in Years 7 and 8. I was running pretty fast. In fact, I was way ahead of my connect group, so it seemed like I was doing fine.

The year after I graduated from high school – from Year 12 – changes were made in GFRESH, and I was moved to a RAISE connect group. RAISE is the college/workers ministry of GFRESH. I was placed with girls who were my age – in fact, they had graduated from Year 12 the year before, just like me. Now that we were all on the same page, suddenly, my fastest speed wasn’t fast enough. I was falling behind. These girls had already been in RAISE for a year (I don’t know why, but they got moved to RAISE earlier than me), so they had already set a pace that I was finding difficult to match.

I used to see Zone as just another day off from school. Yes, Zone was fun. I got a chance to show off how fast I was (not), but I wasn’t going to make it to the State athletics unless I trained hard enough to get first place at Zone. Being in a TORCH connect group was fun. It was right for the season, but staying there until now would not been beneficial for me. I seemed a lot wiser because I was 4 years older than my fellow connect girls, but when I was moved to RAISE, we were all experiencing the same struggles and not one of us knew more than the other about life’s mysteries.

The last events of the day at Zone were the relays. Our supervising teacher/sports coordinator would nominate me and 3 other girls in my age group to run the 4x100m (normally, there would only be 3 or 4 other girls there – the others were too girly for Zone). Do you know how a relay works? Each participant in a team is spaced out 100 metres apart on the track. The first person will run with the baton, and as they approach the end of the first 100 metres, they will see the second runner slowly building up their pace. This way, when the first and second runners meet, they are running at the same pace, and can do a safe transfer of the baton. This process will occur between the second and third runner, and the third and fourth runner. If the runners pass the baton correctly and run at the correct speeds, the fourth runner can cross the finish line and possibly win first for their team.

At this point in time, it’s been almost 2 years that I’ve been a part of the RAISE ministry. Throughout these 2 years I’ve had many ups and downs in my life, many struggles that I know I could have done without (but needed in order to grow), and endured ‘hardships’ that are slowly shaping me to (hopefully) become the woman that God has called me to be. But, in the hustle and bustle of regular living, I’ve let myself get distracted by things of this world that are not necessarily wrong, but at the wrong time, they become wrong things.

Take TV, for example. TV is good, in some aspects. It’s entertainment, it’s news, it’s facts and information, all in the comfort of your own living room. But, if I have an unfinished assessment due tomorrow, watching TV now wouldn’t be the right thing to do. I’m fasting TV at the moment, so that frees up several hours a week, plus the other things I’m fasting, which results in a LOT of free time. What do I do with all this free time? I could laze around the house like I did this past weekend, or, I could see this fast as a baton that I need to take up and run with.

The GFRESH leaders are preparing for SOS, the GFRESH connect group leaders are preparing for SOS, and now it’s time for the members of GFRESH to prepare for SOS. This is a relay that we need to pump our legs the hardest for. It’s important that we cross the finish line in time (October 2nd), because if we don’t, it could cost us (not being qualified to participate in the State athletics carnival). If we don’t pass this baton (go through this fast) properly, the person (people, souls, ministries) that we pass it to may drop it, or they may trip or slow down too much, and we don’t want that.

This blog has been a long convoluted way of me explaining that this fast is an important part of this race. Grab that baton and run for your life!

– “Keep moving forward.” – Walt Disney