Time For God: May 9

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: 2 Timothy 2:5
And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 
Claude [name changed] recently retired as a senior civil servant. His life is one of merit and distinction. Yet, one imperfect chapter marks his early school career.

Claude attended an expensive private school in a leafy part of England. His interests and pursuits were practical and reflective. He hated sports. He faced a singular challenge. The school swimming pool hosted the Annual Swimming Gala; every student must participate. It was a big deal. After his first event, Claude searched for a way out; he finally found it. Each year, the janitor asked for help; the pool had to be prepared and maintained. Claude volunteered. Problem solved …or so he thought.

When Claude was sixteen, national personalities planned to attend; so too did local dignitaries. Parents were urged to be there. Many travelled from a distance; some flew in from overseas. All students—without exception—would participate. This was a huge event for the school. Claude was distressed; he concocted a plan.

The pool was drained before the event. Claude helped the janitor to sanitize and scrub it clean. Refilling the pool would take between twelve and sixteen hours. The day before the Gala, the janitor opened the valve; water began to flow. The process was carefully timed; the pool would be filled to capacity as the Gala began.

Expensive cars, some chauffeur driven, were en route to the school. The local Mayor was ready to open the event. Dignitaries would mingle with parents and students. Food was prepared; the Reception would follow. School musicians were set to play. Leaflets were printed ready for distribution to every guest. And yet …all of those careful plans were suddenly suspended. A dark cloud hung over that historic day.

At dawn the janitor discovered a water supply valve tightly shut; a drain valve was wide open. In the bottom of the pool lay a mere dribble of water. The School Principal was beside himself. Much more could be said; it is better left unsaid. Other than the janitor, only one person had the keys and necessary knowledge to access those valves. That year, Claude did not win a participant’s medal; instead, he was expelled. He never became an athlete; he did not win an athlete’s crown. He bent the sporting rules once, but never again. Today, his wise life continues to bless others.  

When have you stepped beyond the rules? How have you missed the mark and lost the prize? How has God given you new beginnings—new hope to share with others?
Lord, open up a new and living way for my life. May I bless another soul today. Amen
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