There is something about formation for ordained ministry, which is like preparing for a race… as mentioned in a previous post, ‘The Work of Prayer’. Day after day one must return to training, whether one feels like it or not… but the hardest thing of all are the waiting times.
For me it feels like being poised at the starting blocks, knuckles on the track, waiting for the starter pistol… at first, spiritual muscles tense, full of energy and eagerness, limbered up and ready for the off… then after a while, the light dims and rain starts to drizzle, the poised muscles start to ache and shudder, and the gritty track chomps into our knuckles… and still we wait… soon the shot will surely sound and I’ll be off… so I clench my teeth and roll my shoulders and keep waiting… night falls and the track empties… and I begin to realise that the shot I expect will not be fired tonight… looking around I can’t even make out the track anymore and my ice-cold muscles creak as I stand up and blink around in the darkness.
And as I jog home, I think, ‘Has the race been called off!’ ‘Why have I bothered training?’ ‘Why did I come to the track?’ ‘What a fool I am.’ And other jolly things like this… But even at my gloomy, creaky, coldest, even whilst I am ranting about the stupidity of athletic training if we are not to run a race… I know that in fact we are training not to compete against one another in an Olympic-style marathon, in order to win a medal, but to run as messengers -as the very first messengers who ran before the ‘marathon’ became a game -we are to run as God sends us, out in the world, carrying his message. And we will not set off in view of the crowds, in broad daylight, at the adrenalin-pumping pistol-crack… we will run at noon, at night, at dawn, on holidays and high days… when we will simply rise from prayer, and go out into the world, and no one will applaud, but now and then others will get up, and recognise that since they have now recieved the message so they also are now messengers.