A beautiful running machine, Morrow came apart in the last 20 yards of the longer distance. I found this comforting since I always came apart in the first 20 yards. For many years I received my first sunburn of the season at the Texas Relays, where I once compromised my solid, stolid Presbyterian upbringing by standing right up and yelling out loud.
This unseemly event occurred during the gun lap of a mile relay. When the home-town achorman got the baton he was already 30 yards behind! However, the crowd quicly realized he was going to try to run down all the other teams’ fastest quarter-milers and began to roar its approval and encouragement. Running all-out all the way and closing down the stretch, when he swung out into the passing lane, the crowd went even wilder. As he hit the tape I’m afraid I said rther emphatically, “Way to go!” I think I also waved my arm somewhat triumphantly in the air.
Our first child chose to be born on Sept. 3, 1960, and because the hospital was 13 miles away, I had been backing the car into the driveway for weeks so we could make a quick getaway. Unfortunately, the main Olympic running events were being transmitted live from Rome late at night on Sept. 3 and in those days, it was not possible to tape from television, so the stern choice had to be made between having a baby and watching Olympic track.
Although I was feeling no pain myself, when the contractions became quite regular, Margaret suggested that we might start for the hospital, but I pointed out that it was entirely unreasonable to miss the mile run. When the contractions doubled in frequency the 400 meters was announced, and of course leaving then was out of the question. Moreover, the 800 meters was coming, which every track enthusiast knows is the premier running event demanding great leg-speed, heart-stamina and brain-power.
By the time the half-mile was over, the contractions had doubled again, and I thought that we really should go to the hospital. When we arrived, the nurse telephoned the doctor to come immediately. He said, “This is a first baby. It will be hours yet. Call me later.” This was the only time I ever heard a nurse scream at a doctor. He got to the hospital five minutes before the baby did. I do not know why he was so upset. The doctor would have had a good deal less time to get to the hospital if I had been a sports nut.
Normally a team puts its two best runners first and last. The first runner is supposed to open up a good lead and the anchor is supposed to stay ahead in the gun lap. The two less talented runners, which includes most of us, run the middle legs where we do the best we can and try not to leave our team behind. Some of us have a tendency to take the turns too conservatively. Others lean out too liberally in the curves. Obviously we must all stay in our lanes. Additionally, in our run through grace for glory we carry a lot of things around the track, but each of us must carry the baton. The whole team will be disqualified if the baton is dropped.
“Baton” is a French word for “stick.” However, for races the French use the word témoin which means “witness.” thus, to win the race a team must run the full course, make its hand-offs within the designated lanes, and hit the tape carrying its “witness” all the way. In 1 Corinthians Coach Paul exhorts the Saints to exercise discipline so that no member of the team runs aimlessly and gets disqualified. Christians aim at a wreath imperishable or a gold medal placed where thieves do not break in and steal.
Sadly, some teams today are running with only the bottom half of a baton. They rightly thin (1) Jesus is a human being. They rightly thing (2) the Bible is a human word. They rightly thing (3) theologians are human. but there is more to carry. As we run our assigned distance we must carry the whole witness. To carry any less is to dis-honor the colors we wear. The top half reads: One: Jesus is God. Two: The Bible is God’s Word. Three: Theo-logy is not anthropo-logy.
Therefore, looking to Jesus, let us run the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).