“What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us, we will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation.” ~Psalm 78:3-4
The apostle Paul calls life in Christ a race. He tells us to run the race to win. And I believe it’s critical that we understand this race that we’re running is a relay. There’s not a single one of us running this race alone. Someone passed the baton to us. And we are now passing that baton to others. We are today standing on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before and, at the same time, paving the way for those coming after. It’s a relay. And something really special happens as the baton is passed.
Notice the boys in this picture who are receiving the baton. See how they are looking back at the runners who’ve gone before. They’re stretching back with open arms, open hands, to receive the baton. They’re measuring their steps so they match up with those who are passing the baton to them, trying to match their stride.
Now look at the one passing the baton. Notice how she is running her fastest right here at the exchange. She’s giving it all she’s got. Her part of the race is almost over. She’s near the end of her leg. But look at how she’s running harder and faster now and working harder now than she was at the beginning. Look at how she’s stretching and straining and lunging to pass this baton on to the one who will run after her. Notice how she’s concentrating on the task.
Now, see how for a time these two are actually running together. For just a brief moment, right at the point of the exchange, the two are running perfectly together. Step by step. Stride for stride. In perfect rhythm. One finishing her assignment, one just getting started. Running together. Cooperating together. Sprinting together. Enduring, persevering, working together. Side by side.
I love that image. I think it’s divinely-ordained. And I believe this is where God’s Church needs to dwell. We need to live in that really cool moment of exchange.
You older Christians, we need you to be actively involved in raising our kids. We need you. We need your wisdom. We need your experience. We need your advice. We need your examples of someone who’s seen it all and endured it all and kept the faith. Our children need to see it in you. They need older people to look up to. You’re running the race, you’ve been running it a long time. But you’re not done. Now’s the time to pass the baton. It’s time to understand you’re not running your race alone. We need you to run faster, to work harder, to reach out to us and pass the baton.
You younger Christians, we need you to be fully engaged with those who are running ahead of you. Look to them. Make eye contact with them. Measure your steps to match theirs. Reach back to them. And be in a spirit to accept from them. Strain with everything you’ve got to accept their love. Their concern. Concentrate on receiving their stories. On accepting their faith.
As we exchange the baton, as the older people stretch and the younger people reach back, as the Christian faith is being passed along in our Christ-centered relationships with one another, we’ll discover that we really are running side by side, step by step.
“He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” ~Psalm 78:5-7