The 4 X 400 relay is my favorite track & field event – There is speed, teamwork and passing of the baton. Stringent rules governing the race require the runner to stay within his or her lane – if a runner drifts across the line, the result is disqualification. Then there is a 20-meter window, the exchange zone in which the baton is to be handed to the next runner – if the baton is dropped, the result is disqualification. Finally, the receiving runner must grasp the baton and hold onto it through the next leg of the race. When the relay is run well, it is beautiful to watch. When it is not, the clank of the baton can be heard throughout the stadium.
In the relay of life, dads come out of the blocks confident they can run the race well. Then the work begins as they try to stay between the lines of life and lead their children by example. Through the straightaway and first curve, analogous to the first 10-years or so of a child’s life, faith and family values are instilled as dad and mom stay in their lane with a healthy marriage relationship and discipline in the home. Then there is the exchange zone, analogous to the second ten years of a child’s life, including the teen years. Now the baton represents the investment of time spent by dad and mom in raising a child grounded in faith and growing in a walk with the Lord. Somewhere around age 20 or 25, the baton is handed off. The hope is that the child receives it gently and grasps it firmly for the next leg of the race. When fathering is done well, it is beautiful to watch as the next generation continues the race with confidence. When fathers are not committed to life between the lines, to marriage and to raising godly offspring, the clank of batons can be heard throughout society.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. – 1Corinthians 9:24-25. As in a race, Paul charges all to run the race of life well. It will require intentionality and disciplined training to compete but that is what men of God do, and that is what fathers raising a godly generation are to do as well.
In the relay, the lead runner has the eyes to see the target as he approaches the exchange zone. The receiving runner begins timing his stride and presents the target, an outreached hand, to receive the baton. The receiving runner knows the lead runner well having watched him run his leg of the race many times. He has every confidence that the baton will be placed in his hand gently and firmly. Similarly, the father-child relationship that has matured over the years provides the grounding and the confidence needed for a successful exchange. Dad has eyes to see what his child is capable of and the child has every confidence Dad will pass the baton well and let go.
Run the relay of life well - Stay between the lines, lead by example as a faithful father and pass the baton of faith well to the next generation.
Prayer guide: Lord, thank You for Your word spoken through Paul. Too often I allow myself to get caught up in the rat race instead of the race of life Paul refers to. Forgive me. Help me run the relay of life well – to embrace the strict training that is Your Word, instill faith and family values in our children through a healthy marriage relationship, lead by example as a faithful father and pass the baton well to the next generation. Amen.
A faithful father runs the relay of life well, staying between the lines and leading by example.