Everyone loves the start of the race. Drivers have taken a few warm up laps and as they come through the fourth turn suddenly the light goes Green – they cross the start line and the race begins.
What happens after they cross the Start Line is anyone’s guess. Each driver probably gets in their car with certain expectations – their car will run fast, no mechanical issues, good pit stops, they finish or win the race etc. In other words, they expect the race to go without any problems. Yet, as you can see in the photo, there are lots of skid marks, a few bumps in the wall and as the day progresses, there will be fewer and fewer cars. The only thing a driver can do is be prepared for whatever may happen.
Life is much the same. I was in the midst of my life – happy, healthy and dealing with the many responsibilities I had at the time. People were dependent on me. I had a business. I had obligations. I was fit and strong and healthy. I burned the proverbial candle at both ends. I pushed myself every day. That is, until that special Saturday in April, 2009 when I decided to do some work in the yard.
That work resulted in what I thought was a shoulder injury. Little did I know that two weeks later my shoulder would be no better and the pain and stiffness would spread to every joint in my body. I was barely able to get up from the recliner that became my spot for the next three weeks. It seemed I had lost all my strength and I hurt.
I visited a doctor who in the course of ten minutes listened to my complaints and ran labwork. Three days later his nurse called to tell me I had rheumatoid arthritis and I should see a rheumatologist. That was the entire message.
Aside from the absurdity of delivering a diagnosis of a chronic disease over the phone in 20 seconds, I had no idea what that meant. Suddenly I felt like those drivers who are bumped and crash into the wall at the racetrack. That diagnosis changed everything.
It took a while, but eventually I realized that while my life had changed significantly, the race was not over. My faith sustains me – and in Hebrews 12:1 I found comfort and a challenge:
“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
My race is not over. It takes some time, but it’s all about establishing a new path, new expectations and new dreams. That’s finding your fortitude.