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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Which is worse, taking credit for something you didn't do or doing something illegal and not admitting it? Umm, can I say Po 'tay' toe or Po 'tah' toe? It is six of one and a half dozen of another. In the end, both paths are insidious and should never be pursued as outcomes. Where does that leave us? Well, before we get to that question, take a look at a couple examples of people cutting corners and taking credit for astounding accomplishments (April 14, 2016).

"Almost two weeks ago, a Craigslist post advertised a 2016 Boston Marathon bib number for sale. The bib owner wanted the “best offer” and told potential buyers, “Bonus if you’re on track to qualify me for B-town 2017.” (A smiley-face emoji followed.) But this was no innocent message. It was an attempt to transfer bibs and break race rules. It was marathon cheating in action. On Monday, if the buyer runs a qualifying time with the seller’s number, then the seller could enter the 2017 Boston Marathon without meeting the required standard. In the 36 years since Rosie Ruiz infamously cut the Boston course and briefly claimed the women’s title, marathon cheating has become both more sophisticated and more easily uncovered. Yes, course cutters, bib swappers and other fraudsters with fast times are out there. But race officials, online sleuths armed with algorithms, and everyday runners are determined to root out the cheaters, especially in major marathons." (1)

Cheating in major events like the Boston Marathon have evolved from cutting across certain streets to shorten the race to selling bibs and qualifying while never running the course. We have also heard of performance enhancing drugs and 'doping' in certain arenas of athletic endeavor. Obviously, plagiarism in literary works is an issue. Then there is the debate over whether footballs were underinflated and who knew of the discrepancy.

Humanity, by nature, wants to achieve and be recognized for those breakthroughs. Cutting corners and duping the opposition is part of the 'playbook' and to be garnered over fairness. Unfortunately, rules and guidelines are set aside in order to gain notoriety and fame. What if we took another approach?

Getting back to the question, "Where does that leave us?" leads us toward acknowledging our relationship with our God. If God is sovereign and I believe God is, then we'll need to set aside our human tendencies to deceive and achieve. In fact, deceiving God is futile at best and foolhardy at worst. All that we can achieve is done so through the power and provision of God and less on our perceived prowess and invincibility. Living into God's will will never require deception only obedience and trust. John Wesley adapted this prayer of covenanting into the faith community and believed it to be a good way for disciples to refocus on God and the order of things.

(United Methodist Hymnal, The UM Publishing House: Nashville, TN, 1989)

A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition is something that each of us needs to internalize and then live externally. Take a look again at how the author relents and submits to the ways and will of God. It is no easy task to set aside our own strivings and ambitions in order to pursue God. It isn't supposed to be easy.

In the same way one needs to qualify to be invited to the Boston Marathon, one also needs to bow in deference to Almighty God. By doing so, it becomes apparent that God blesses those who walk in the ways of trust and obedience. Note the admission of the author that even in the negative aspects of life such as: suffering, neglect, and emptiness the relationship between God and author remains.

Understand, we don't have to bend toward God's will. The same idea applies to those who chose to not abide by the rules of the Boston Marathon. The nature of a covenant is an agreement between two parties. It is a public decree to follow the guidelines and rules of the agreement and to respect each other in the pact.

Attending to the order of things does bring a great sense of recognition and connection. Faith in God's goodness even when things are imploding around us are always predicated upon the devotion we have offered into the covenant. How far will our heart trust the one who said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b, NIV)?

We are at the starting gate. The ball is in our court. It's time to make a decision.

1). marathon/b8ncQDuDT4OAiUnfhK5XSI/story.html

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