Touching the yellow gate…

The closest I have ever come to being ‘sporty’ was playing netball in junior school and swimming for my ‘house’, things we were expected to do in an effort to teach us the value of healthy competition and ‘Team Spirit’. I was pretty useless, really – my sense of competition lay in the classroom 😊!

So, it’s an odd thing that athletic excellence has always fascinated me and, at times, moved me deeply. I watch how determined minds turn easily bruised flesh into elastic machines capable of the most extraordinary feats of contortion and endurance, and I am inspired. Even though there is not the faintest chance of me ever trying to do something similar (especially at this age!), my eager spirit identifies with that courage, straining and reaching for the coveted prize.

Last week I watched Jasmin Paris become the first woman ever to complete the notorious Barkley Marathon held each year in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee. The race is known for its extreme difficulty and many peculiarities, and that the runners are given 60 hours to complete the 100-mile course which also involves 60,000ft of climb and descent – about  twice the height of the Mount Everest. Jasmin touched the yellow gate that marks the finish line with just under 2 seconds to spare at 59:58:21! I was frustrated with the insistent journalists who forced answers from her super-dry throat and mouth, I felt her exhilaration and her pain as she touched the yellow gate in victory and slumped under it in exhaustion. Overwhelmed by her achievement, I turned to speak to my husband, but no sound escaped the huge lump in my own throat.

Best Beloved and I are in our late 70’s now and pursuing the call of God on our lives has been an amazing adventure. We have witnessed the salvation of millions and seen hardly countable crowds instantly baptized in the Holy Spirit. Excitement, challenge and sometimes all-too-human fear are well-known travel companions but over it all the brooding presence of the Holy Spirit has strengthened and empowered us. Who knows when our marathon will end? A young evangelist once said to Reinhard Bonnke, “You will get slower, I will get faster,” to which he replied, “I am like a 747. I will be fastest at the end of the runway!”

When Jasmin touched that yellow gate I was immediately reminded of Paul’s words: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

I wonder if the gate into heaven is also yellow? 😊