Part III is the ultimate and devastating reality that being lost can sometimes come at a price too high to pay!
Long before ESPN became a household name, (and a 24-hour sports network) Saturday sport’s programming belonged to “The Wide World of Sports”. They are the network that made the phrase “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat” famous. When I was about 15 years old, Wide World of Sports covered one of the most unusual sporting events I had ever seen. The race, known as the “Western States 100, is a footrace through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The race begins before dawn, and the participants run, hike, climb, wade, and trudge along the trails, through streams, over mountains, and down the valleys until they reach the finish line…100 miles later. They have first aid stations along the way that check the vital signs of the participants and provide food and water for the trek ahead.
The reporters for ‘Wide World of Sports’ had carefully positioned themselves at checkpoints, river crossings, and first aid stations throughout the race to add personal insight to their coverage. Additionally, two helicopters covered the race from above so that aerial views and race updates could be given.
As the race unfolded, the reporters presented moving personal stories about each runner and gave frequent updates on the overall standings. Tanya Smith was running first place in the women’s division and had led the entire way. She had steadily increased her lead and was 12 miles ahead of the nearest runner with twenty miles remaining. She was on her way to a record-setting time in this event. Other runners weren’t as fortunate and many of them had already dropped out due to muscle strains, falls, cramping, or fatigue. Those runners still competing used the finish line ahead as their motivation.
The reporters had shifted their coverage to the finish area as the race neared completion. Then I heard one of the commentators make the following announcement:
“We have just received an update on the women’s race. With ten miles remaining, we have a new leader. Tanya Smith, has dropped out of sight, and we are doing our best to give you more info before we leave the air.”
As runners of all ages, shapes, and sizes made their way to the finish line, their sponsors and supporters cheered them on. Most of these runners had competed together for some time and you could sense the bond that had developed between them. The competitors would continue to come across the finish line well into the evening and many of these runners would stay around to lend support and encouragement to the stragglers.
Just as Wide World of Sports signed off that Saturday, they issued this last story. Smith, the women’s leader throughout the race, had a fifteen miles lead when she made a horrific blunder. Ten miles from the finish line, she took a wrong turn and proceeded down an old horse trail for about 12 miles. By the time Tanya realized her mistake, she was so physically exhausted and emotionally spent that she could not continue. She actually had to wait for officials to find her so they could help her off the course.
It has been forty plus years since I watched that event take place. For some reason, I know I will never forget it. What a tragedy! She was so close, but never reached the end. It’s a reminder to all of us that there are times when sincerity, effort, and good intentions don’t matter. Tanya had ten miles to go, but never made it.
Let me leave you with this question. If you witnessed her taking the wrong turn on the trail, would you have attempted to stop her, or would you have remained silent to keep from imposing your beliefs on her? Are you able to see the difference between the two? It’s important to understand that certain truths in this world are fact and can’t be ignored. (California is on the West Coast of the U.S.) At other times, an opinion ‘parades’ around as truth. (The world will end in 2012! I’m getting rich writing for Associated Content!) With a little effort, these claims can be examined, and revealed for what they are.
Jesus Christ claimed that he was ‘God’ in flesh. He came to earth to provide forgiveness for sin to all who would receive him and believe. He further stated…
“I am the way, the truth, and the light. No man comes to the Father, except through me.” John 14:6
If that statement is true, then it has eternal consequences for everyone. If it’s false, then Christians are tragically misinformed and they should be disregarded.
C.S. Lewis, the brilliant Cambridge professor, author, and philosopher once stated…
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” C.S. Lewis
Sometimes… being lost is a matter of opinion… (my son still doesn’t think he was lost at Disneyland).
Sometimes…being lost is inconvenient…(searching Burbank Airport to eventually find my car.)
Sometimes…being lost is fatal!… and the outcome impacts eternity…
We owe it to ourselves to be sure….