A man stood at the edge of the starting line, bent down, his palms at the ready, legs ready, his head tilted somewhat upwards but with his face still facing the ground. Tension flowed through his body as bone and muscle, joint and ligament prepared for the task at hand. Suddenly, a gunshot burst through the tension and the silence and, almost simultaneously, the man launched his body forward into a full burst sprint. No, this wasn’t a war zone. It was a race.
The man, having trained for this moment throughout his life, felt incredible. Every lunge and thrust forward was more powerful and more freeing than the last. This was his calling. This was his destiny. Whether predetermined or not, he was meant to be here and he knew it. Every fiber in his being assured him that this was his to own—his objectives and goals clear on the path before him.
The run, this race the man was on, was nearly halfway done. He could already foresee the ending and the premonition of victory or, at the very least, the sense of completion. Unexpectedly, another runner showed up next to him, running at his very same speed even though the second runner was clearly holding back—not a hint of effort or sweat in his expression. This second runner was beyond ready for this run, this task, and yet he was running at the man’s speed. The second runner turned his head and suddenly spoke to the man.
“Are you certain this is your race to run? Are you sure you should be running today? Is that finish line yours to conquer?”
The man, shaken by the fact that this other runner would speak to him in the middle of a situation that required so much effort and focus, didn’t quite know how to reply to the question offered by the runner. Is he really asking me this? Doesn’t he see me running? Doesn’t he see how much effort and training I have gone through just to be here? Doesn’t he understand the sacrifices that I have made and the devotion that beats within me? These were the thoughts that the man was able to put together as he tried, as much as he could, to remain focused on the race and determined to finish.
“You can try to ignore me but I’m still here. You see, I already finished this race but I decided to do another loop just to see what was happening back here. My name is Champion and I alone can make others champions such as me.”
The man listened to the second statement made by the runner, this so-called Champion who, apparently, was a runner of legend, a man of destinies, a maker of heroes. For one split second, the man’s confidence shook. Can I even finish this race if this master of runners is questioning my place here? Am I worthy to finish? Is this really my calling? The man, in all truth, had never really thought of being a champion. From the beginning, all he had wanted was to run and finish well; proudly crossing that finish line he could almost see across in the horizon. But now, the man was even questioning his own ability to finish. If Champion stands against me, if his will is for me not to finish, then can I? May I? Champion spoke once more:
“I am Champion and I always am. I own these running pathways for I made them, and those who run here only finish when I declare them finished. What do you say of this?”
The man, no longer able to focus on the run before him, came to a sudden stop. As the drops of sweat built up above his eyebrows, in part because of the exercise and also because of the insecurity that was building inside him, he looked at Champion in the eyes. In his left eye he read the word Glory and in his other eye he thought he could read the word Love; however, the intensity of Champion’s splendor, which the man had failed to notice while he ran, proved too much to bear. The man was forced to look away. Champion spoke:
“I am Champion and I am Victory. I am also Purpose and Honor. I am Glory and the Hope that each new day brings. These are my paths to run and I allow others to run them.”
The man tried to look into the eyes of his fellow runner once more but still couldn’t, and turned his face away once more. Finally, the man spoke:
“Why did you ask me those questions? Do you know something I don’t? Do you know who is meant to run here today and who isn’t? How far ahead is the finish line? Will you let me finish this race?”
Champion didn’t answer. Champion stood there looking at the man, his spirit shaken, his mind broken, his heart bleeding out. The man felt weakness spreading through his being, Champion’s splendor now weighing down his whole physique. The man waited and waited for an answer. In the distance he noticed other runners passing by, freely pursuing their course and goals in the path ahead. But not the man, for he waited and waited for Champion to answer his questions—maybe the answers would restore the strength and confidence to finish the run ahead. Frustrated by Champion’s lack of answers the man took a step towards Champion and, for a third time, dared to look into the eyes of the runner. But the man was blinded on one eye—he guessed he should have taken the hint the first couple times.
But the answers never came. The man, having rebuilt enough strength within, took a few steps ahead past Champion. He could feel Champion’s eyes following him as if Champion knew the intentions of the man. The man turned to Champion once more and said:
“Then, in that case, I guess I will keep running as fast as I can. Since you are master of these paths you can do as you will and I cannot prevent you from pursuing your will upon me and my race. Until then, I am just going to run and I will run with all the strength and heart I have left.”
After these words, the man took off on a full-blown sprint as Champion followed him with His eyes, eyes that read Glory and Love.