For the lowly dachshund, the annual “Halloweener Derby” at Seaside, Florida, is the opportunity to showcase one’s speed and focus. As the dog’s human entices it to the finish line, one can easily be distracted by fellow competitors, the humans at the fence or an interesting smell along the way. But the finalists were true competitors and did not disappoint. Dash, the first female champion, beat out Hawk* in a close final of the 5th Annual Halloweener Derby.
Seaside, a planned community on the Florida panhandle’s Emerald Coast, was the film location for the movie “The Truman Show,” starring Jim Carrey. The founders of Seaside, Robert and Daryl Ellis, were owners of a dachshund, named Bud. The loveable dog went everywhere with his owners and connected the community. While raising funds for Kind Heart Kennel (a shelter for pets of domestic violence victims), the event honors the memory of Bud.
HERE are more great examples of “achievement.”
HOMILY: My wife will often see situations and say, “There’s a sermon illustration in there.” That was certainly true of this event. While the length of the race was relatively short, some dogs did not finish it. There were a few that were content to stay with their “human” at the starting line. Others were distracted along the way with the sights of people on the other side of the plastic fencing. At least one had to take care of some bodily functions.
Then, there were the ones, who spotted the goal, usually attracted by some object or treat in the owner’s hand. These were the dogs that made it successfully to the finish line.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews in the Bible wrote:
12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
This dog race was a small picture of the pilgrimage mankind faces. Ultimately, there is a finish line, but many do not have their hearts and minds and affections attuned to it. They are the ones who linger at the starting line, seeking what they can out of life with no real understanding of how much they are missing out on.
For those who began a pursuit of Christ, many of us run with the encumbrances of this world – the pursuit of passing pleasure, power and possessions. We fail to see the lasting, eternal prize at the finish line – Jesus in all His fullness and glory – and allow the temporal to rob us of eternal focus and pursuit. We, who fall into this category, will ultimately finish, but not reap the rewards that could have been received.
But like the writer of Hebrews, there are those who keep their eyes focused on the Source – the Creator, the Provider, the Sustainer. Like the dog that salivates upon seeing the treat at the finish line and runs with all of the rest of his appetites in check to receive the prize in his owner’s hand, the follower of Christ must have that kind of focus on the Author and Finisher of the faith.
I pray that you experience that most significant of “achievements,” which in not based upon your own work but based upon the completed work of Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
*I had the pleasure of talking with the owner of Hawk, asking the dog’s name at the end of the heat in the first picture. It was only after “tweeting” the picture with the #halloweenerderby that I discovered the owner was Ryan Michaels, Meteorologist of WJHG/Panama City, FL. I hope for Hawk’s continued success!