Sunday, October 17, 2010

Secretariat and Glory


"Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds." - God, in Job 39:19-24

And so begins the new film Secretariat, in a hushed voice-over, amidst the sound of violins.

For background on this passage, God asks these questions of Job, pressing him rhetorically, reminding him that He alone holds life in his hands. Job was created for specific purposes, one of which was to exemplify unwavering faith despite severe suffering. In fulfilling his purpose, Job reflected the very glory of God. God's creation, doing exactly what it was created to do, reflects the divine like nothing else can.

Secretariat's story is of the same marrow. He was born to run his race. The theme is repeated over and over, as if the filmmakers obsessed about driving the point home: what makes Secretariat such a tangible, even personified hero, is that his very nature drives him to run his race. All caution is thrown to the wind. All arguments about his limitations are stopped. All hindrance, threat of an enemy, even physical impairment are shaken off. The undeniable truth is that He was created to run. And Secretariat runs his race with such passion the watcher has to resist jumping to his feet.

I say Secretariat pursues running with a passion. He does not pursue victory. He is not shown to have an understanding of winning or reaching a goal. Secretariat simply craves being unleashed. The track is just the vehicle through which his most glorious strength can be unashamedly let loose. The track allows him to fulfill his single, magnificent purpose: glory.

Doesn't that strike a chord in you? Doesn't a part of you, deep down, just want your greatest power and brightest beauty to be unleashed just for the sake of its freedom? I want to shove everything else out of the way. I want to annihilate my inhibitions and clingy self-criticism. I want fearlessness. Lord God, free me up to run my race, fulfilling my purpose and revealing your glory!

[Whew. Breathe, Leslie. Told you it makes you want to jump up and down somewhere. In a large, Kentucky Derby kind of hat.]

When Secretariat is first learning to race, his trainer says he presses back against the gate before every start. And once the race begins, he takes a heck of a long time to find his stride. I get it, because me too. My track - the place where I'm supposed to shine - isn't always obvious. And when it is, half the time, I'm stumbling through, without a bit of gracefulness. Thankfully, my very nature drives me along, and my Trainer is perfect. At times, He and I have unleashed some serious awesomeness. Those successes remind me to keep in step, follow, listen. Obey.

I can only hope and pray that once I find my stride, once my race is being beaten out with a thunderous rhythm, that all who are watching just see glory. If I can reflect something about God while on the track He's laid out for me, I will have done exactly what I was created to do.

Run your race with all you have. The trumpet is sounding and I will not stand still.


"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

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