There's one thing about a 'relay': it is never entirely about 'speed'. In a relay, you can be the fastest people on the face of the earth and still lose the race. 

Want an excellent example of that? The 2004 Olympics, which took place in Athens, Greece. That year, everyone knew that the American women's team was going to win. They were, beyond all doubt, the very best in the world. 

For one thing, they had two of the fastest women in the world. Marion Jones had won four gold medals in the previous Olympic Games at Sydney. And Lauryn Williams had just won the silver in the 100-meter dash a few days before. The other two girls weren't too bad either. Angela Williams and LaTasha Colander. They were a formidable team. 

To top things off, the four girls had won the qualifying heat, beating every other country by almost two seconds. And—you know?—in a 400-meter relay, 2 seconds is a loooong time! 

But it's the second heat, not the first, that counts in the end; that wins the medals after all. And in the second heat, strangely enough, these four incredible women never even placed! 

Best in the world! Fastest on earth! Didn't even place! And here's why:  one of them failed to pass the baton. In fact, it was the best one—the gold medalist, Marion Jones! She just couldn't pass that thing! Angela Williams ran the first leg and was off to a good strong start, and then Marion Jones took the baton and pulled into a wonderful lead. But when it came time for her to pass it off, she just could not get it into Lauryn Williams' hand. She kept thrusting it out there: once, twice, three times—but every time it missed; Williams couldn't get a grip on it. 

Finally, on the fourth try, they made it! But by that time they had already passed out of the exchange zone. You know, you only have that little 20-yard box to pass that thing in, and if you don't get it done before you leave the zone the entire team is disqualified.  

And that's what happened. If you look up the Olympic stats for 2004 and locate the 400-Meter Relay, you'll notice that the world's fastest team is not even listed!  It's amazing! 

A 'relay' is not just about speed. It is not just about individual greatness. It's about 'passing things on'. And if you don't get that right, you lose the race; and it won't matter in the slightest how great or how fast you were! 

Life is a 'relay'; did you know that? You can be the greatest on earth! The happiest; the most successful the most spiritually gifted person on earth, but if you don't "pass on" what's been handed to you, none of it is going to count! 

We are not in this race for ourselves. God never intended us to run it that way. 

I'm talking about our example here and, of course, our power to "inspire". 

Do you inspire? 

Let me tell you: you cannot do anything better with your life than use it to inspire others around you. And, in spite of the fact that it is not all that difficult, people who truly inspire are uncommon! 

Lots of people 'aspire'; most of us only 'transpire'; bad people 'conspire'; all of us will 'expire'. But how wonderful when you can 'inspire'! 

I believe we are living in a generation that longs for inspiration. Don't we see that everywhere we look?  Isn't that why the movies are popular? But movies aren't real! Shouldn't real life and real people inspire us instead? 

Shouldn't children be inspired by their parents? Shouldn't classmates be inspired by our kids? And co-workers and acquaintances inspired by what they see in us? 

Well...what does it mean to 'inspire'? What exactly can we do? The list, of course, would be a long one, but here are a few things that come to mind. A few ways to 'inspire'. 

1. By living the faith we profess.  When the Dad and Mom they see at home is the Dad and Mom they saw at church, that is true inspiration.  When you live like a faithful follower of Christ in the workplace, at home, in your neighborhood each day? Now there's a 'baton' they might want to take! 

2. By refusing to follow the crowd.  We live in a world that just goes with the flow; so, believe me,  this will inspire! "Do not follow a crowd to do evil," we are warned in Exodus 23:3. I love what G.K. Chesterton once wrote about this: "Dead things always drift with the stream. But it takes a living thing to swim against the tide."  What a marvelous baton to pass on! 

3.  By loving the unlovely.  Nothing stands out more remarkably than this: when you love that person who is not loving you! When you're the only one by a lonely person's side.  If you love when it hurts, when it's costly and unpopular: that makes you a great inspiration. The world will see Christ in that! That's how He lived. Remember Zacchaeus? The woman at the well?  

There are dozens of other things, but you get the point. Living like a real Christian in a world that desperately needs to see it. 

Listen, dear Christian, our world is longing for true inspiration; for something—someone!—to lift them up and to show them a better way. And that is exactly what God calls you to do! 

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven."  Mt 5:16


It's so good to worship with you each week. 


See you there!                                                   RAS

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