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The Final Push

Self-Reliant Group facilitator, Laura Walton, prepares for the final stretch of lockdown

As the runners round that final bend, there is always an expectation that one or more of the lean mean machines flashing lycra and sticky plasters strapping their bodies together, will find the throttle. They will move away from the pack with 100 metres to go, muscles straining and eyes fixed like steel on the finish. The others, faces grimacing with desperation and nothing in the tank to respond with, watch as they get left behind. They have nothing more to give. Lying on the track, chests heaving, arms thrown over their faces, they know they gave it their all, but had nothing in reserve.
 
So with two weeks to go until we can meet outside as two households or 6 individuals, are we ready for our final straight? Have we abandoned that race altogether? Or are we dragging our bodies by sheer will power? Did that will power leave us months ago and now we mooch around in the changing room, warm, comfortable and safe?
 
Whàt effect has 3 lockdowns and numerous tight restrictions here in the North West had on us? We’ve almost certainly been contemplating what we will do and where we will go come the end of this month and then later on. The future potentially is bright, depending on Boris’s criterion being met. We could have a haircut, browse the charity shops and meet someone for a sit down coffee…..all in the same day. Or we could receive our shopping delivery, spend an hour on the phone, sort the plastic pots, paint a wall and collapse onto our beds with the cat.
 
For some of us that finishing line just gets nearer and nearer as we think about the sheer joy of lying on the track, chests heaving, no more running. For others, that finishing line is a mirage, a suggestion but nothing definite, nothing tangible. We all started on the same track, but sometime soon some will leave to celebrate, to rest, to tell the story whilst others will still be moving towards that finish line, the one that never seems to get any nearer.
 
So this is where, just as much as before, if not more so, we need to be understanding and encouraging and think less of celebrating our own freedom and more of helping those we know, finish and get off that track.We need to have something in the tank to have a shoulder to lend or re-run that last lap beside someone else. Depending on the encouragement we get, we could all be celebrating together, finishing that race.
 
So are we ready for the final push? Can we get someone else we know over that finish line when all they want to do is stay in the changing room?
One of my favourite bible verses is not about persevering and running the race, although that is a good one. It’s about relying on God when our own resources are depleted and having our strength renewed. Then instead of being able just to drag our bodies over the line and finish the race, we can soar on wings and never grow tired again.
 
This verse is for us all, our families, our friends and especially for those communities all over the world who are still very much in the grip of the pandemic. Let’s put our hope in God.
 
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.
Isaiah 40:31


Find out more about Self-Reliant Groups: http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/srg 

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