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Running with the Baton

In a relay race, there are strict rules surrounding the passing of the baton. If you lose/drop the baton, your team is disqualified. The judges don’t care if you pass the finish line first: if that baton isn’t in your hand, it doesn’t count.

I’ve been thinking about relay races a lot since Dr Savelle passed.

Dr Savelle wasn’t just running his race, he was running his race with a mission. Or a baton, if you will. Then sadly, and unexpectedly, his part of the race finished. But that doesn’t mean the team’s race was over! It just means it’s now time to pass the baton onto the next runner.

In the limited research I’ve done concerning relay races, I’ve discovered there are two crucial elements of the baton pass:

  1. The first runner must extend their arm and let go of the baton.

  2. The next runner must reach back and take hold of the baton!

In the diagram below, you’ll notice the second runner reaching behind them so they can take the baton. The second runner doesn’t stand with their hands open, waiting to receive the baton like a child at Christmas, standing with their eyes tightly shut and arms extended for the gift to be placed in their hands. No, the second runner grabs that baton and rips it out of the first runner’s hand so they can start their part of the race.

If you watch Olympic relay races, you’ll see the transition happen so quickly and smoothly you hardly notice it’s a different runner. The momentum doesn’t stop.

I repeat, the momentum doesn’t stop!

That is our challenge today. We can’t let Dr Savelle’s momentum dissipate. But how do we do this?

One step at a time.

Last week, a situation arose which made me think of this. I’d gone to an appointment and wasn’t looking for small talk or big talk … or any talk! I was feeling quite emotional and really missing Dr Savelle.

I considered telling the gentleman at this appointment I might be quieter than normal because a close family friend had recently passed away. This would give me a “way out” of participating in the usual conversation.

But then I thought of Dr Savelle. Although he was a quiet man and wasn’t someone who needed to be the life of the party, he was always friendly, positive, and approachable. He made strangers feel important. His acquaintances felt like friends, and he treated his friends like family.

I remember one of his visits to Melbourne when I was around 8 or 9. It was a fun visit, and we shared many laughs and made many memories. Dr Savelle preached powerfully and imparted faith into everyone attending the meetings. It was a great week… for me!

But I’ve since discovered that during his visit, Dr Savelle was going through a really, REALLY difficult situation. He faced an enormous mountain and encountered a massive storm, yet nobody knew! Dr Savelle was just as faith-filled, joyful, and generous. He was just as caring and willing to pray for others. Behaved the same as he always did when he visited. He didn’t act differently during a storm. Why?

Because he knew WHO was going to get him through to the other side.

As I contemplated taking the easy “out” last week, I remembered Dr Savelle didn’t tell us at the airport he was going through a challenge, so he might need to keep to himself instead of sightseeing with the family. He loved on us and laughed with us and left the situation in God’s hands.

So I didn’t give an excuse at my appointment and prayed that if God had me there for a reason, He’d make me ready and sensitive to the Spirit. And guess what? Minutes later, the gentleman talked to me about God and why I was a Christian, and asked me how I could believe in God when there’s so many bad things happening in the world.

For the next hour I witnessed to this man, all the while thanking God for Dr Savelle’s example, which had been why I remained open to the conversation and not retreated into myself.

I think that’s how we’ll continue to run the race: Every time life presents us with an opportunity or a crossroad, think about the baton we are holding.

  • If there’s an opportunity to sow or scatter seed, will you carry the baton?
  • If there’s an opportunity to pray for someone who is sick, will you carry the baton?
  • If there’s an opportunity to believe God for an impossible dream, will you carry the baton?If there’s an opportunity to tell someone in our community about Jesus, will you carry the baton?
  • If there’s an opportunity to show integrity and be a vessel of honour, will you carry the baton?
  • If there’s an opportunity to serve, will you carry the baton?
  • If there’s an opportunity to stand and not give up, will you carry the baton?
  • If there’s an opportunity… (fill in the blanks)

We all want to honour Dr Savelle. This is how we do it!