We all heard this when we were children. We stood in a line, looked at our friends or classmates next to us, and prepared to take off running.
We heard the words like a gunshot in the air. We heard them like a whistle. Like a command. Like a promise of a win, of a finish line, of a race.
On your mark.
Bend your knees and touch your fingers to the soft earth. Lift your tale and take a deep breath. Feel every muscle in your body.
Look forward. Visualize yourself running. See the finish line. Feel the race about to begin.
“On your mark.” Get prepared and be where you are supposed to be. Stand where you are supposed to stand. Take your position. These are the words you hear before you take a step. Before you dive head first. Before you propel yourself forward. Before you begin the race.
Your mark is only a beginning. The place you stand before you run. It is temporary, only a pause before the real action. A level playing field before the big race.
I’m on my mark now. In class, at home, working. I’m on a mark. I’m getting set. I’m visualizing the run and looking for the finish line.
I’m waiting for the “go.” I’m trying to get set but I haven’t heard the “go” yet and if I don’t soon I’m afraid I may fall on my face.
I already feel behind in the race. I feel as if everyone else heard a whistle I did not. Everyone around me has left their marks and are running. They have started the race. They have reached the finish line. Each of them, running after their own finish line, leaving their marks in the dust behind them.
I’m standing on my mark, losing a race I have not even begun yet.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:7-9
If we are not those who grow, then we cannot do this alone. We need community. We need to work with those who water if we can only plant. And we need to rely on God, trust that he will grow, he will follow through with his promises. We must have faith in a faithful God who has proven again and again that he will fulfill his promises. That he will grow the crop. We are but workers, servants for the greater God.
I sometimes feel like I’m not even working because I don’t directly see the fruit of my labor. I spent almost four months in Amsterdam ministering and serving and I never personally got to see someone come to Jesus. I’ve worked on my novel for two years and there is no publication in sight. I’ve been in College for almost five years and I still have two months left.
I’ve been on my mark for so long. And I’m waiting for God to shout “Go” but he hasn’t and I’m getting tired and can’t I sit down for a moment I’m so tired and I hate feeling like I’ve lost. like I’m behind.
Maybe we are always on our marks. Maybe no one ever yells go. A whistle never sounds. A timer never starts. No one is watching the race, cheering for you to win because no one is leaving their marks.
Or maybe we all left our mark when we took our first steps as children. Maybe we have always been racing.
I feel like I’m losing because I’m in an endless loop of comparison. I’m constantly looking for another runner, for another person in the race, I’m constantly trying to judge how long my friends have been on their marks. How long they’ve been running. How close their finish line is. How tired they are.
But do any of us even know what our finish line looks like? Does it matter?
Am I trusting God, that he will blow the whistle and help me run when I’m tired and show me the finish line when He knows is the right time?
Am I trusting that God is not looking at a stop watch, shaking his head in disappointment at how slow I’m going? But instead cheering me on, proud even if I’m still on my mark?
Are we really losing? Or are we all running a different race? Will we ever hear “Go”? Will we trust Him?
On your mark.