During the introduction to the Olympic games, the lit Olympic torch is taken from a Greek city and carried to the location where the games are to be held. The torch is passed from one runner to the next until it reaches its destination.
Newspapers and newscasts report this tradition. Pictures are shown of one athlete passing the Olympic torch to the next. Each runner is participating with interest, joy and efficiency to assure that the torch reaches its destination in time for the opening of the Olympic games. The time when the torch arrives is documented by the press and is applauded by the multitudes. The focus is on the torch and not the athlete.
As pastors' wives, we frequently find ourselves in situations similar to that of the Olympic runners. We are symbolically holding the torch as first ladies of pastoral districts or as coordinators for Shepherdess. Like the athletes whi I pass the Olympic torch, we must also pass our "torches" to our colleagues.
Some torches we enjoy more than others because they seem to shine brighter, have more decorations or are light-weight. There are other torches, however, that'do not bring us much joy. They are heavier, obscure or wanting. But all are torches! They may vary in their intensity, but they all shine!
Every so often the time arrives to pass the torch to a successor. If it is an interesting torch that we enjoy, we become lonesome and are sorry to have to leave it. If it is a heavier and more difficult torch, we are relieved when it is passed on.
In the change of torches we can see that our Christian experience is enriched. We grow in life and better learn how to deal with various situations. Therefore, it is not wise to become proud when carrying a beautiful torch nor to lament when carrying a more difficult torch. It is intelligent behavior to ask the Lord for wisdom and humility to carry each torch willingly and to recognize the lessons He wants to teach us in each situation.
"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Cor. 12:4-7, NIV).
The Lord certainly has a purpose with this interchange. Divine purposes are always the best ones.
Next time we have to pass the torch that we are presently carrying, let us do it happily and willingly, even when lonesomeness assails. Let us encourage our successor with words of incentive and, if she asks, some guidance. Sadness should not be part of our feelings.
Our run with the torch of the mission of the church is permanent. Unlike the athlete who stops running when he has passed the torch, we simply exchange one torch for another, and keep on running. Our run takes us to different locations and places us in varied circumstances, but through it all our job is to continue to let the torch shine.
The Lord decides which torches we should carry. Let us look to Him for wisdom and power so that we may carry our torches willingly and courageously.