A Pepper Grinder Post

Run the Race


I recently listened to a book on CD which I enjoyed quite well.  The book was called The Art of Racing in the Rain and was written by Garth Stein.   I should warn you up-front that the dog Enzo (who is the narrator of the story) has a worldview which is an odd mixture of reincarnation and evolution.  However, I still thought it was a good story.  It’s about an amateur race car driver (Denny) who lives with his wife, their daughter, and, of course, Enzo, the dog.  The main drama of the story occurs when Denny’s wife becomes sickened by and dies from brain cancer.  Denny’s in-laws try to convince him to let them raise his daughter.  When Denny refuses this offer, they sue for custody and get Denny falsely accused of the rape of a minor.  The ensuing legal battle lasts years and drains Denny of all his meager financial resources, including his house.  He almost gives up the battle at one point, but, with the heroic intervention of Enzo, decides to stick it out, and the book ends happily, with Denny winning custody of his daughter and becoming a champion race car driver.  This probably sounds a little sappy, but I really thought the book was quite well done.

Perhaps my favorite line in the whole book occurs when Denny is talking to someone else in the car racing scene.  He is wondering aloud if he should just admit defeat and let his in-laws have custody of his daughter.  He worries that after doing everything he can, he will lose the battle.  His companion says, “There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose."

That really struck me.  There are many times that I am tempted not even to get out on the track.  Instead of studying a difficult Bible passage for a future blog post, I play Hearts on the computer.  Instead of having an uncomfortable conversation, I check the news again.  I put off starting on a complex project at work as long as I can.  When I look honestly at why I do these things, I come to the conclusion that it is because I am afraid of trying and failing.  I don’t get on the track because I fear losing the race.

racetrackThe reason I am writing this now is that it struck me that Jesus was the ultimate example of someone who kept racing, even when it seemed certain he would lose.  You could point out that Jesus KNEW he would be raised from the dead after he was crucified.  True enough, but I can pretty much guarantee that he didn’t FEEL the truth of that when his death was staring him in the face.  Why would Jesus beg God to take the cup of suffering away from him in the Garden of Gethsemane if he felt a calm confidence about the victory that was coming on the other side?  As someone who struggles with discouragement, I can tell you that knowing something is true intellectually often does nothing to make the dark night seem any brighter.

Jesus knew he would be cut off from God, who was his very life and essence.  He knew he would die a painful, shameful, and isolated death.  But he didn’t get off the track.

The next time you are tempted to take the easy way out, remind yourself:  “There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose."


*Photo Credits: dog by , racetrack by