During the time of Advent, a time of preparation for Christmas, I want to share a piece that was written by a friend of mine, Jim Harnish.
“I can still see him bent over beside the pool, his head in his hands, crying in shock and disappointment.
It was the State Championship Swimming Meet. I was there as a timer, clocking my stop watch and getting my feet soaking wet every time a swimmer came in for a turn. The starter called for the 500 yard men’s free style, a 20 lap endurance event. To our surprise there was no one in the block in front of us. His name was on the heat sheet, but he wasn’t there. The starter called, ‘Swimmers, take your mark.’ The computerized horn which has replaced starting guns went off, and as the swimmers dove into the water, a coach raced past us toward the practice lanes. I watched him pull a lean, long athlete out of the pool and tell him the bad news. He had missed his race. His shoulders folded to his knees and he began to cry. This was the State finals, the event for which he had trained all year. And he missed it because he was still in the practice lanes warming up.
You may hear that story again, because it is such a powerful parable of how easily we miss God’s opportunity when it comes. The Gospels are full of good folks who were busy doing something else and missed God’s moment when it came.
With the memory of that swimmer fresh in my mind, I prayed, ‘Lord, don’t let me miss you this Advent. Don’t allow me to get so tied up in all the practice that I miss the main event. May I be like those swimmers who are alert, alive, stretching beside the pool, bouncing in anticipation. Let me be ready when my time comes to plunge into life in the Spirit of Christ.”
Let’s be ready!