The sport of horse racing has rarely been able to rise above the addictive cloud of gambling except when something extraordinary happens, like it did this weekend, with the unexpected rise of California Chrome, and a shot at the elusive Triple Crown — a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in 36 years, and will have to wait now until at least 37, as California Chrome could do no better than tie for fourth place.
It was a story with all the makings of a Cinderella ending with a horse of humble beginnings, owned by some guys who just wanted to try this out with an investment of pocket change compared to what goes into most of the other horses competing at this level, and a 77-year-old trainer with a shot at immortality. Everyone loves an underdog. Why else would little towns like Coalinga, California be in the news? It got my attention, and I’ve never been into this, except to remember seeing Secretariat in the news in 1973.
I surprised myself by actually watching the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. For some reason, this little alarm clock went off in my head at 3:45 in the afternoon. Great, I thought. I can watch an entire sporting event and not have to invest the whole afternoon. It was like the seventh game of the World Series in three minutes.
And it wasn’t to be a Triple Crown, at least not this year.
I couldn’t help but be reminded again, as I watched, that these are just horses. They don’t know what this means. It’s as if they are saying: “Hey I’m just a horse, you guys. Chill out. I’m not in this for the same reasons you are. Sure, I want to beat all these other horses — that part is in my blood — but if I don’t have it today, I don’t. I’m doing what I love, anyway, and that’s all there is to it.”
It’s a little like what happens to you and me when we get ahold of why we are here on this earth. What is the purpose and meaning of our existence? First, we understand the relative shortness of time. This life (this race) isn’t all there is. In retrospect, it’s over almost before it starts. And what is it for? Well, if you can stop running long enough to reflect on it, this life is here to glorify God, help those around us who are in need, and tell people about Jesus. Remember the simple brilliance of truth?
How easy is it to get caught up in everything else and forget this?
Personally, I have what seems like a hundred things to distract me right now. I need this today as much as anybody. I need to remember why horses run.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)