False Start

If you watched as much of the Summer Olympics as I did, you probably saw some of the Primetime footage of the freak accidents that needed to come with a warning of what you were about to see, or the “out-of-bounds” disqualification resulting in removal of a medal. Almost as hard to watch (in my book) was the “false start”. According to Wikipedia, “…a false start is a movement by a participant before (or in some cases after) being signaled or otherwise permitted by the rules to start…”

A couple of examples of the “false start” I saw in the Olympics were in the men’s sprint and hurdle events. This makes sense since “False starts are common in racing sports….where anxiety to get the best start plays a role in the athletes’ behavior” (also accredited to Wikipedia). According to Olympic rules, one “false start” disqualifies the participant, ending the Olympians’ ability to compete in that race for a medal. What a devastating consequence! I watched as one such Olympian sobbed inconsolably on the sidelines with his face to the ground. His chance to run in the final had ended because he had jumped the gun, stepping out into the race too soon. Ouch! What could be worse than preparing for this day and then your chance to compete blown in an instant because of your own anxious actions? As I witnessed the Olympian experience devastating mental anguish, I felt his pain.

I felt the pain of his loss, and also found myself transferring that pain to my own human condition. Afterall, when my humanness is showing, how many false starts have I had as I’ve stepped out ahead of God? How many times have I thwarted, delayed or complicated God’s plans for my life because of my anxious actions? Too many to count?

I am not alone.  Remember Abraham’s backstory in Genesis? Verses 16:1-2 tell of how Abraham heeded his wife Sarai’s suggestion for an alternate plan to having the child God had promised “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid [Hagar}; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” In case you have forgotten, that “alternate” plan did not work out so well for the two of them. It resulted in quite the textbook definition of a dysfunctional family (potentially still impacting the Middle East today). And guess what? Spoiler alert – in the end, God delivered. They just needed to wait for it, in this case they needed to wait for the son God promised and that He delivered when Sarah was way “past childbearing age” and Abraham “as good as dead” (Hebrews 11:11-12).

The moral of Abraham and Sarah’s story is we need to wait for God, resisting the temptation to step out ahead of Him and do it our way on our timetable. Cause that simply doesn’t work folks. Whether the wait is 1/100th of a second or a lifetime, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of waiting on God. Waiting will mitigate being personally responsible for wreaking havoc on God’s plan for your and my life, and save a lot of mental anguish. It can prevent you and I from being our own worst enemy as exemplified in the below cartoon.

cartoonCan you relate as I do?

All I can say is the next time I am at the starting gate of something in my life, I vow to wait for God to tell me it is time, resisting the temptation to rush ahead of Him. How about you?

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,

and in His word I put my hope.

I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning

more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)


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