A man and his wife gave years of their life to sled dog touring and racing. The man was well known for his prowess as a musher and was comfortable in many environments and climates.
His favorite race was a short race that required great intensity of focus and powerful dogs able to sprint. He had developed a new theory on the right approach for this race and was looking forward to testing it out.
His wife was very comfortable on a sled as well, always behind her husband in her own sled for years. On return from taking a tourist, she tried to catch a glimpse of her husband and the race team, but did not see him. Tracing his sled marks, she found him stopped and looking unusually grey.
That night his cough became worse and was confirmed as pneumonia. He would not lie in his hospital bed, he was so anxious about the race and missing it. His wife finally intervened and offered to get help from a close friend. He rested peacefully at this consolation.
The close friend was willing but unable to help them, and she dreaded breaking the news to him. She gathered the race team together and put them through a few exercises, noticing details that he would want to hear so that she could relate them and give him hope. Every year they seemed to improve, but they truly excelled this time. The lead dog had a way of almost anticipating the direction and tempo, and she began to see why her husband was so dejected.
As the week progressed and his health improved, she left off the detail that she was the one steering the sled. It was a dangerous sport, and she doubted he would agree to it. The more she drove them, the more in sync they became, and she thrilled at the rush of going over the hill at top speed, like a roller coaster as a child. Her husband was released from the hospital but under strict guidance NOT to race or be outdoors. They both knew he could not follow those directions, and pretended he was not still anticipating a race in four days.
She broke the truth to her husband, but he took it better than she had expected and asked to observe. Over the next three days he watched her with a critical eye and a pair of binoculars while bundled under layers of blankets that left just enough room for him to peer out. He had given her strict instructions and seemed highly critical of her more free style of control, but admired her confident steering and lighter weight. The night before the race he told her they looked ready to race.
Unable to sleep, the woman lay with the race dogs, feeling their warmth and watching their bellies rise and fall in the dim light. She had never known how much she was anticipating the race until she had heard that they were actually ready. The morning arrived all too soon after she finally drifted to sleep, but she was ready quickly. The race time was moved up to avoid a predicted storm and suddenly she was in position, rattled by the dark clouds above her and thoughts of her husband’s health. The start and the seconds afterward seemed unreal as her adrenaline coursed through her brain. She was out of control and disconnected from the team, and almost allowed the lead dog to drive the race. Catching herself, she mentally engaged and the race was on.
Minutes flew by and she lost track of all but her dogs and the equipment that conveyed her effortlessly. An unusual motion caught her eye and she looked back to see a fellow racer careened over, noticing a guide line had snapped. Stopping short she jumped from the sled, righted the other racer and threw him a spare guide, running back to her sled as fast as she could. The dogs were back in motion quickly. The point ahead of her was reached, then the next, and the next. As they passed the finish line she realized it was already over. Her time was a record for her sex and she was interviewed by various news anchors in fancy snowsuits. She took none of the credit, simply insisting the dogs and her husband were the reason for their victory that day.
Moral of the story:
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
In thinking more about this verse and further study of the words, I noticed that the wording describes Joseph’s wife as the young child’s (Jesus) mother; even though it was talking about Joseph and his wife. I came to the conclusion that this was her more significant role. In this story I explored the idea of riding on the coat tails of another’s labor and gaining significance from it. The temptation is to simply praise the one who crosses the finish line, or to take all of the credit when we succeed.
Mary holds a place of honor in human history because she was chosen. All of her actions pale to the greater act of God. We could credit both Joseph and Mary and focus all of our attention on their great faith; but that would be missing a very important point. It wasn’t because they did anything that they were significant. The truth that we can’t really ‘earn’ our way to significance is something I learn over and over again. It is so alluring to have a part, to be useful. Setting that temptation aside, I see that my part is to be used and not to invent. The study of the Bible teaches me this again and again, that as I try to force these stories they don’t come. It is only when I come empty and ready to receive that I see the lessons in the verse and in the stories that unfold from my examination.