Friday, 16 November 2018


Michael Johnson: "I used to be fastest man over 200m but after my stroke it took me 15 minutes to walk length of hospital corridor."

That's the headline from an interview on the Telegraph website today.

Is Johnson describing something unusual, something surprising and shocking? Not at all. The only thing surprising or shocking about Michael Johnson is his, former, excellent health. In his prime, he was the fastest man over 200m and 400m that the world had ever seen. His physical ability and speed were exceptional. But the other part of the headline; the part about the decline in his health... that's utterly mundane. That part, in some form or fashion, happens to everybody who doesn't die "too early" because of some other tragedy.

Life is a one-way journey, to the grave. And, in the normal run of things, the most energetic bits, the healthiest bits, the peaks of physical health and achievement - these are mostly in the rear-view mirror, and increasingly far in the rear-view mirror.

And in this race, there is only ever one outcome, as far as this life goes: we lose. Eventually, the body gives out entirely: life ends. The time comes when you won't do 200m even if you're given 15 years, let alone 15 minutes, because your body will be in a box 6 feet under the ground.

But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ: death is not the end. Existence is not a short spurt of youth and activity followed by a long, slow decline and then final defeat and death. This life is just a drop in the ocean of eternity. And all the weakness, sorrow, pain and death itself are enemies that Jesus Christ has defeated, when he defeated the ultimate enemy - sin - through his death on the cross. All the sad and bad things are, as Sam Gamgee put it, going to come untrue. We don't need to rage and fight against the dying of the light - taking inspiration, as Michael Johnson now does (and good for him), in the hope of making the fastest possible recovery (this time). The dying of this temporary light is the setting of the moon and fading of the stars, the darkest part of the night, before the coming, glorious and eternal Son-rise.

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