Passing the baton

Last year, a well-known speaker, Dr Myles Munro, died suddenly. Shortly before he died, he had a dream in which he saw an athlete lying in a coffin clutching a baton. The meaning was people die holding a baton instead of passing it on. Batons are meant to be passed on!

The Bible sometimes likens the Christian life to a race. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Run with perseverance the race marked out for you.” However, the Christian life is not just about me running my race alone, it’s more like a relay race. Our mission is not just to run well but to pass on something to the next generation.

Paul instructed Titus to (teach the older women to train the younger). A dynamic occurs when those who are older, with experience and wisdom unite with those who are younger, with strength and energy. The results can be far reaching.

I now fall into the category of the older woman but that wasn’t always the case! Looking back, I am so thankful for every woman who invested in me. In many ways they were simply ordinary women, living ordinary lives, yet they gifted me with time, which added value to my life.

Such is the story of Naomi and Ruth. The older woman linked to the younger woman is a powerful message for today.

Their story begins with a dream. A dream of a new beginning, a dream of a better future. Life was good for Naomi and her husband Elimilech until tragedy struck. Then Naomi was faced with one enduring loss after another. First, her husband then her two sons died. She was bereft – what had become of her dreams?

No doubt, we too, have dreams. We make plans, we trust God but sometimes things don’t work out quite as we had hoped.

Such was the case for Naomi. The relocation plan to Moab didn’t work out well and, as a consequence, her dreams died.

Sometimes we think that to successfully pass on a baton everything has to be perfect and in order. We see images of super sharp runners then we look at our own lives and see the mess and failure and believe that we are just not capable of passing anything on.

Naomi shows that mistakes, pain and loss do not prevent us from having something to pass on. In fact, it’s often the contrary. Naomi was a survivor. Ruth 1:5 tells us she “survived her two sons and her husband.”

Surviving can be draining. Just surviving the day is, at times, exhausting. Every survivor knows that surviving leaves little time for joy. And Naomi had certainly lost hers. Perhaps you can identify with her?

Naomi was so distraught she changed her name to Mara, meaning bitter. Because she was very bitter. She blamed God. Her pain ran so deep she described it as “God’s hand being against her.” She could no longer feel God’s touch upon her life and yet He could still reach down and touch her.

Naomi thought her life was over but she reckoned without one thing, that God wasn’t finished with her. Eventually she made the choice all survivors make. She chose to live on. She began thinking about what she had and what she could do.

She realised she had Ruth and began to invest in her. And Naomi’s investment paved the way for one of the greatest love stories in the whole bible.

As we think about our own lives and how we can pass something on I’d like to consider a sports analogy. Because athletes know that for a success baton exchange to occur there are certain factors that must be in place, such as:

  1. Both runners must obey the rules
    Obedience to Jesus is the basis of it all. Naomi directed, Ruth followed and God worked His purpose in it all.
  2. The runner receiving the baton must not look back
    It’s funny how at times a rosy glow comes over past memories. The old days were not necessarily the best days. The best days are actually now because today is what we have. Today is an opportunity to make an investment to pass something on.
  3. The runner passing the baton encourages
    Let’s create space for others to grow. Hebrews 10:24 talks about considering how we may spur one another on. Say, now is the time, now it’s your turn whilst acknowledging each one has a vital contribution to make. Relay runners work together but we take different turns at different time. The reality is we all have a baton in our hand.

So something I believe worth considering is:

  • Where am I in the race?
  • What do I have to pass on?
  • Who can I pass something on to?

As we commemorate Elim’s 100 Centenary let us recognise that this is now our time and our turn. The challenge is to leave a legacy that stretches beyond our lifetime. Let us be poised, positioned and prepared to pass on the baton of faith we now hold in our hands.

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