When I was at primary school, I was quite a good sprinter. I know that comes as quite a shock to those who know me. Sporting ability completely deserted me once puberty arrived, almost as though my body wasn’t big enough for agility and hormones. But when I was skinny and fast, I did pretty well at running. I recall coming second a lot. Also third. And once, at a schools’ meet in Ramslye, not placed. But my primary school did a fun thing. Most of the races for Sports’ Day were bog standard. You came first, second or third, or you lost. And the same with the overall house cup. But, right at the end, there was the Cake Race.
The house that won the Cake Race won for their house, not a trophy or a silver cup, but a piece each of slab sponge cake with butter icing the colour of the team. I remember one year that Cook (as in Captain James) had lost pretty much everything overall, coming in last despite all our best efforts. And then came the Cake Race, which was a relay race if I remember rightly (it was rather a long time ago). I remember being very motivated. Possibly also very hungry. But I was on the team, and we won. It has only just occurred to me that the icing must have been prepared right at the last minute and the correct food colouring mixed in, because minutes later, there we all were, stuffing our faces with a cake with light green icing (it’s not as gross as it sounds, honest – my American friends need to know also that in the UK our icing is what you call frosting).
And that victory snatched from the jaws of defeat was better than winning the cup. And winning cake for the whole house so that we could all enjoy it was better than a silver trophy. And being part of a team felt great.
God reminded me of this recently, because it was a hard day. I felt dreadfully ill, which is not unusual, but very tiresome. For a number of good reasons, I felt and still feel that life is extremely heavy. And in prayer, God showed me a piece of cake with green icing on it, and the memory of the year we won the Cake Race came flooding back. God’s encouragement is always so deeply sweet.
All my adult life, I’ve been running a different race to other people. I have not had a shot at the rat race, and most of the time I seem to come last. The prize I’m motivated by is one that I won’t get to see in this life. Being a mystic is a rather lonely path at times. But I do know that I’m part of a team which is focussed on a different kind of winning, and who are happy to pass batons and share cake. I haven’t been able to run for 23 years as I write (and yes, I am counting), but I know that my life’s walk is no less beautiful for being slow, weary and mostly a wheeling. And I think when I sit down with my co-heirs at that banquet, there might well be slab cake with green icing on the table.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24 NIV – Paul speaking)
©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Photo from Pixabay