It’s hard just to get to the starting line of a 5K these days. You have to run, stretch, eat right, hydrate, wear the right shorts. The hardest thing, though, may be getting that little computer chip tied on your shoe laces. It records your official time. The chip is activated when you cross the starting line and registers your time when you cross the finish line.

Chip timing was designed originally for those races with tens of thousands of runners where it might take you several minutes after the gun just to amble with the herd to the start. Before this (aka in the old days) we had to do the mental math at the finish – take the clock’s recorded time, subtract the time on your watch when you actually crossed the start – not so easy when you are gasping for breath and looking for a place to collapse. Well, you get the picture. In the old days, the time on the finish line clock didn’t tell the whole story. Today, the whole story is recorded on that tiny little computer chip.

There is just one thing: you must be sure to cross the activation sensor plate at the start line to begin. There is a narrowchutethat everyone must start in if they are competing in the race. Go around this, be rogue, blast off around the edge and through those orange cones, and you disqualify yourself. Your race doesn’t count.

But this creates an interesting dilemma during the race. Since everyone has their own start time, you can never quite know if you’re ahead of the person running next to you, even if you’re beating them. Time will tell the winner, but no one really knows until they finish. (Well, unless they saw the person in front of them at the start and they passed them along the way, butworkwith me here.)

So, I wonder how it felt for those Confirmands to hear Tom Berlin say, you’ve just come to the starting line. In so many ways Confirmation is like that computer chip, secured to your laces, lining you up in the narrow path behind the start. But the race is all in front of them. They’ve got to put one foot in front of the other to get to the finish. Their finish.

Photos from Saturday’s Footprints for Hope 5K tell the story; the race exacts a toll.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the road race is a great metaphor for the Christian life. Getting to the start takes training and discipline, but staying the course takes fortitude and guts. The Spiritual kind.Becausethe world that meets you out on the road forces you to run the race of your life.

That’s when I’m glad for confirmation of the computer chip secured to my laces.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

“Remember your Baptism and be thankful. May the Holy Spirit work within you, that being born of water and the Spirit, you may remain faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.”

What a finish line celebration that will be!

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