Who knew I was actually an athlete?

What sport, you ask? It’s called extreme waiting.

Like a sprinter I limber up, stretch those muscles. Inhale. I give the competition an intimidating look.

‘On your marks . . .’

I put my fingers to the line. Exhale. Poised, ready . . .

‘Get set . . .’

I steady my feet and I raise my buttocks to the heavens like a glorious offering to the Lord.

I prepare for the start with delicious anticipation.

‘Wait . . .’

Sweat drips from by brow. I breathe in, then out. And I  . . .

‘Wait . . .’

Keep your eye on the goal, that’s what they say. Keep your eyes on the prize.

But my arms start to wobble with the pressure of holding my girth in this state.

I start to worry.

Hello? I’m here to run the race? I need to get started. To move. To ‘GO’.

‘Wait . . .’

Now my fingers have gone white. My buttocks are no longer poised in glory but starting to wane (as they do).

‘Wait . . .’

I try to focus my eyes on the lane ahead because I can still see it. I WILL run this race. I’m ready. Inhaling. I’ve been training. Exhaling. I steady my resolve. I’m no quitter.

‘Wait . . .’

My legs are burning with the strain. It’s starting to hurt. How long can I hold this position?

‘Wait . . .’

I wobble. My palms sweat. My feet start to cramp.

‘Wait . . .’

They say it’s all about the mental discipline, surely. And I’m tough, I tell myself. I will not give up. I’m a good Christian. I know how to be patient. But I’m really ready to . . .  run.

‘Wait . . .’

‘God, I’m here! I’ll run the race you have set before me. For real. So let me—inhale—be free to run—exhale—please.’ Like, now.

‘Wait . . .’

My fingers start to slip. I start to cry.

‘Wait . . .’

I’m sure, I’m so sure of the path ahead. I grit my teeth. I endure the pain as my limbs begin to seize.

‘Wait . . .’

Tears stream down my face. I look at them falling on the ground and then I look up to the end, to the prize. I can hardly see it now; the tears are stinging my eyes.

I cry out, breathing fast. Too fast. I scream to God: ‘Let me GO!’

‘Wait . . .’

NO! I can’t wait if my body is failing. I’m going to fall. Come on. Please, let me GO!

‘Wait . . .’

I scream again with the pain and frustration. I shake uncontrollably. I lose my sense of direction. I can barely hold my head up. I pray—beg really—for the ability to withstand the strain.

‘Wait . . .’

I start to feel dizzy. My limbs have atrophied. I have wasted away. I am barely here at all. My lips are dry and cracked. My voice is raspy. I pray a silent, desperate prayer. ‘Let. Me. Go.’

‘Wait . . .’

That’s it. My limbs give way. I fall. My face smacks the ground. My limbs offer no protection. I am all but gone. I have nothing.

I am nothing. Just a mess of need smashed on the ground.

And in the quiet, long after the dream, my dream, has withered . . .

He comes. He lifts my body.

‘Let me.’

He wipes my tears, gazing into my face. A smile on his. And he whispers . . .

‘Dear One. I am the prize.’

I breathe again. Inhale. Exhale. Calmed, because . . .

The race is not the destination. It’s not the achievement or the success.

It is the journey, graced with the Presence

of the One who alone is worth the wait.

‘But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.’—Isaiah 40:31