Some of my favorite days and some of my worst days happened in middle school. Let’s be honest, it was tough. You are not a kid anymore, but not in high school yet. This is how life is, trying to find your place. Even as a man, now in his thirties, I can struggle with this. I thought thirty would change everything, but I’m realizing that it’s a process just like middle school!
Moments can define you during these years in middle school. You are impressionable and needing to fit somewhere. I was a good pastors kid, but if I’m honest, I leaned more on sports than God for help through this time. Basketball and football were my king. My coaches suggested that I run track in the off season to stay in shape, so I did.
We put together a relay team that I was a part of. Four of us running the 4 x 100, 4 x 200, and 4 x 400. I remember our first track meet like it was yesterday. We all lined up in our respective spots as we awaited the start of the race. The gun fired and the first leg of the race began.
If you haven’t seen a relay before, here is how it works. The first runner starts, he has a certain length on the track that he is able to hand a baton off to the second runner. The same goes for the third and fourth runners. The last crosses the finish line. The challenge of this race is in the handoff.
This happens in an area called the changeover box. It is 20 meters in length. 10 meters behind the start of the leg and 10 meters in front of the leg. The baton has to be handed off in this space or you and your team are disqualified.
The changeover box of life is where we fail more often than we like to admit. I view it through life and through scripture as the relationship between generations. Whether it’s an older boss hiring a younger employee or a parent and their child’s relationship as the child is coming into their own. This “changeover” is so important.
The first race that my team ran, I was the third runner. I remember seeing my friend receive the baton and start heading my way. I was so excited and nervous for my leg of the race that I started faster than we practiced. Typically, the runner handing the baton off had given everything they had by the time the “changeover” happens. The new runner, me, hasn’t run his race yet and is excited too! They are slowing down, we are ready to sprint. You can see how this handoff can end terribly. And it did for my team. I ran too fast and stepped outside the box before the baton was given to me. Disqualified.
We begin to throw blame around. The older generation should have sprinted out to the end. They should be excited to hand things over. The younger generation should slow down, calm down and be patient for the exchange. Wait your turn and don’t get frustrated during that time.
As I read in Hebrews 11, the great heroes of faith chapter, I see that these amazing men and women didn’t even accomplish what God had for them. It says, “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” (Hebrews 11:39-40 NLT)
Only together can we achieve what God has purposed. Did you catch that?! We are only complete as a church, as Christ-followers, as believers in the One True God, if we handle the changeover correctly. If we work together for something better.
Many are praying for revival in this nation. I believe that it is going to take people willing to stand in the gap as bridges between generations, for this to take place. For old men and young men to hold hands; to fight and pray together. For women who have been there to lean on younger women just starting and vice versa.
Both sides must work together, showing care, respect, and love for one another. We must each run our race with humility, endurance and an understanding that this is not a sprint, but a relay. There are those who have gone before and those that are coming behind. Let’s be faithful in the changeover box and with the race God has for us to run.