Much of the time, the star athletes have the first turn. There are starting pitchers in baseball, starting point guards in basketball, starting quarterbacks in football, etc. In these sports, you want to get on the board first and stay in the lead.
A different strategy comes into play when the sport is a relay race, however. Certainly, the lead runner or swimmer needs to be a strong athlete, and those in the middle of the race need to maintain a swift pace, but the star—the one who will bring home the win—is the powerhouse anchor. The last one to leave the starting block is the one people look to for the finale. The anchor breaks the ribbon with one final stride; the anchor stops the timer with one final stroke.
In life, though, we don’t always like being last … do we?
When you are the anchor, you don’t start on 0:00. You start at whatever point your team made it to before your leg began. You might already be in the lead; you might be trailing everyone. Regardless, it’s your job to kick it in gear (pun intended) and either maintain the lead or earn it.
Likewise, we don’t have control over many of the circumstances that have affected our lives in the past. We can’t usually undo past mistakes. You can’t choose your parents; you don’t pick your siblings. You can influence but not force change in your spouse and children. You can’t single-handedly fix corporate lay-offs or the tumbling stock market.
You may be running the anchor leg in life, but don’t give up! God doesn’t expect you to run the whole race alone, but he does expect you to keep on keeping on. Check out Romans 12: 11-12: “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder” (The Message).
So, if you are looking over your shoulder at the past, then you are not focusing on the race ahead … and anyone who has ever seen a horror flick knows that looking over your shoulder while running is a bad, bad idea. Stay alert; don’t quit.
Originally posted May 22, 2011