Each year in Alaska, Iditarod, the annual long-distance sled dog race takes place in early March. The grueling course spans 938 miles from Anchorage to Nome. Mushers endure horrific arctic conditions of gale-force winds, white-out conditions, and subzero temperatures with windchills plummeting to minus 100 degrees! Mushers generally take between 8 and 15 days, and often longer to complete the course. Each musher starts with 14 sled dogs and must cross the finish line with at least five of their dogs. Each year there is a ceremonial start in Anchorage, but the official start occurs in Willow 80 miles north of Anchorage. To date, Mitch Seavey holds the record run in 8 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes, and 13 seconds, mushing over 100 miles per day.
If you ever have the chance to be present at the ceremonial start in Anchorage, it is a sight and sound to behold! Imagine 50 or more dogsled teams of 14 dogs each. These dogs are bred to run and pull a sled and it’s abundantly clear that’s what they love to do. Before the race begins, the mushers are busy getting their dogs tethered to the sled. The dogs are so hyped up that this is no small feat. In their excitement, the dogs jump all over each other, yipping, and even playfully biting each other—all from pent-up energy and the anticipation of the run. As the start draws near, the canyon of buildings in downtown Anchorage echo with the cacophony of dogs barking, yipping, and snarling. But when the start gun goes off and mushers give the command to mush—everything grows unearthly quiet. The only sound you hear is that of the sled runners shooting across the snow and the soft pat of the dogs’ paws as they engage in what they were made to do. It’s quite a sight to behold!
I can’t help but think that the church is a bit like that Iditarod start. When we’re not doing what we were designed to do, we’re “barking, snarling, yipping and biting” each other. But when we’re dialed in, all doing what God gifted us to do and commanded us to do, all you hear and see is the beautiful rhythm of the church functioning as a coordinated, effective unit. In writing to the Thessalonian church, Paul praised them for doing just that, “You became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8)
In Christ, the Lord has groomed us to function with other believers as a unified team. We are to represent Christ well to others through our life and words and make Him known.
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16
Personal Application: What church family are you a part of? How do you fit in? What gifts and skills has God given you with which to help build up His body, the church?
Wendell Morton and Jim Grassi, D. Min.
We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5