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The Baton Exchange
by emmanuel iweha
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All scripture quotes are from the KJV

Have you ever seen a 4 by 100 relay team do a baton exchange? The perfect exchange is usually the one in which they have so timed their running that the one expecting to receive the baton 'takes off' even before the baton has touched his or her backward stretched hand. That is faith in its essence.

Relay teams practice to perfect or bring to near perfection the most critical point of the race i.e. the baton exchange. There are some critical values that most would consider as essentials when one is running a race. Speed, timing, running technique, your start (especially for short distance races or sprints), tactics adopted (i.e. maybe because of those you are running against you approach the race differently), and so on and so forth are examples of some of the essential things needed to execute a near perfect race. And all of these are important especially in individual races. But in a team event such as a relay race (4 by 100 in particular), some might argue that none is as essential as a well coordinated baton exchange. Now that the other things we mentioned earlier are important, but one false baton exchange or a sloppy one could cause the team the whole race. And history is surfeit with very fast quartets who didn't cross the finish line first because of this one area. History too has favored those who were not so fast but maybe on that day someone in heaven was smiling upon them and smooth exchanges couples with sloppy ones from competing quartets gave them the race. And this happened even when they were not regarded as contenders.

The aspect of the baton exchange we want to look at is that always amazing part (as it has to do with skill, timing and coordination if not pure science) where a runner who is about to receive the baton takes off as he or she is running an individual race. She does her utmost to launch of at her optimum speed and at the same time a hand (after a couple of very quick steps) is stretched backwards. By now the one with the baton is winding down (and the gap between them is miraculously closed, one slowing and the other speeding) and the baton touches the palm of the runner in front.

The point we want to draw attention to is that running, that taking off before the baton reaches the hand, which is what God usually calls us to do.

Going back to the relay team, most times it's the one behind (with the baton) that gives the call for the other to takes flight. This is obviously something that has been rehearsed. And they by practice get to know when to give that call conscious of the fact that as the person in front of them is picking up speed and they are slowing down, they must meet some distance ahead, close enough to make the exchange - the front runner doesn't look back. He or she just hears the call and starts and starts his own race with his eyes in front. This is a ministration in itself.

Abram heard the call and he too took off.

"Now the Lord said to Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, into a land that I will show thee...so Abram departed as the Lord had spoken unto him; and lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran" Gen.12:1&4

Between verse 1 and verse 4 were promises, but the first thing was the call and the next thing was the running. The baton might represent many things, but for the relay team, if they wait for the baton to reach their hands first before they start running it would probably cost them the race (as it is now, only injury or anything untoward happening would make a runner stand and wait to collect the baton and by then finishing the race would only be a symbolical gesture).

The one that starts running is implicitly confident that the baton would be handed over to her. All she heard was the call to run and she without looking back to avoid distraction, starts off believing without question that the baton would be handed over to her. And this is the point today, that is of God making the call and you and I knowing that we are in the same team (i.e. individually with God), start our run without doubting the fact that the one who made the call is able to catch up and hand over the baton.

Now it's only those that cross the finish line with the baton that are regarded as to have 'legally' completed the race. So it's not the issue of who gets there first as it were but who gets there right. What shall we say then? You and God are on a relay team. It is in fact a quartet and you are the anchorman i.e. the last gut, the finisher. And finishers in the relay team are as important as the starters. They are strategically given that position because everybody within the team believes they are more than able to deliver and even cover any lost ground if the need arises. This is the confidence the Godhead has placed on you -you are their anchorman.

And what is waiting at the finish line? On this side of eternity -destiny, a fulfillment of purpose and on the other side -everlasting glory.

There are so many things we can dwell on here. We can talk about the dynamics of the quartet (The father, Son and Holy Ghost). We can look at the part each play to bring about your victory at the end of the race. We can look at various aspects and even nuances of the physical relay team and correlate it with the spiritual of which you are now part and every aspect comes with its blessings.

But the only thing we want to emphasize on here is that seeming blind run; running without any seeming 'concrete' thing in your hand. Running without any thing 'tangible' but running still.

The call is for you to take flight. It is not for you to start sloppily (that won't do at all). You are in a team; you have gone through this many times in those off the road and seemingly unimportant places. He has trained you for a day like this. All those time and with those little things you have be trained to even do it subconsciously. You didn't have enough on and with you (be it money or whatever) but you took off and went anyway (and you got there). You weren't 'qualified' but you raised your hand and volunteered anyway and now you are putting people through. You didn't know what their response would be like or if they will even give you a moment but you went anyway. The essence of what we are saying here is that you have been trained to run light. You have been prepared for this stage. Now the only thing different is the stage is a bit bigger (maybe a bit 'more' bigger), but itís still the same call. People were not there when the lions and bears were being slain but it's still the same God.

What else can we say? We have mentioned it: run light. We don't really want to look at Abraham who was told to leave his father's house but he took Lot with him. Another thing is run fast i.e. as if you already have the baton, setting your mind on the goal and target even when the baton has not reached your hand.

Don't look back; the Person that gave the call is able to reach you before you are in full flight. Don't be distracted either by false calls (i.e. recognize the voice) or by other peoples race. And as you take off, be rest assured that God will give you that tangible thing to hold, run with and deliver. God bless.

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