All eyes interested in the 160-year-old sport of horse racing are on the Belmont Stakes race in New York this Saturday where an unlikely horse, California Chrome, has a chance to win the Triple Crown for the first time in 36 years. Having already taken the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby each by over 5 lengths, California Chrome is favored to win this race as well.
If I sound like I know what I’m talking about, I don’t. I know next to nothing about the sport of horse racing except to see pictures on the front page of the sports section this time of year. However, this story is hard to miss, since it’s been so long since any horse even had the chance to win the Triple Crown. And then there’s the story around this horse that makes him an unlikely winner. He’s certainly not the dark horse in this race, but he was in the beginning.
The story in a nutshell: Two older guys with little in common purchase a broken-down horse just to watch her lose in a few races. They breed her to the cheapest stallion they can find, send the resulting foal to a washed-up 77-year-old trainer, and the result is California Chrome. Humble beginnings for a winner.
But from what I’ve read, horse racing is fickle. With only one race and 1 1/2 miles to go, the slightest trip-up could easily ruin everything. Right down to what one commentator called the luck at the starting gate. Apparently California Chrome likes to rock back and forth in the starting gate. If the start of the race catches him rocking forward, he’ll win. Otherwise that split second change of direction could cost him the race.
But the horse knows nothing of this. He doesn’t know about how his movement in the starting gate will affect the outcome of his race; he doesn’t know about any of the countless things that could happen on a mile-and-a-half track; he doesn’t know the odds; he’s never even heard of the Triple Crown, and he doesn’t know his picture is all over the sporting news. He’s just going to jump when that gate opens and do what comes naturally.
If we had even the slightest clue about what God was accomplishing in and through our lives on any given day, we might freak out. The scriptures are clear about how God is weaving His will around what we are doing — even putting us on display before rulers and authorities in heavenly places. (I don’t think we know any of those guys.) Who knows; we might be running the spiritual equivalent of the Triple Crown today. All we know is the gate opens and we’re off and running. Focus on running the race; finishing well; and keeping your eye on the prize. You won’t make the sports section today, but you’ll be front page news in God’s eyes.
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