Last weekend I had the privilege of watching a gumi race on the Murrumbidgee River. But what on earth is a gumi race? When I was a kid it would have been called a raft race, with the buoyancy proved by car, truck or tractor inner tubes. There were a whole range of categories, one being specifically for the ADF, with one coming from Kapooka and the other four coming from the RAAF Base. Each had a crew of six, starting from the Eunony Bridge with the finish line at Wagga Beach.
One team (who will remain unidentified) saw the aim as being to win, and so designed the simplest, lightest structure, (some tubes held together with a tarp), chose the strongest crew they could find (6 Physical Training Instructors) and it was no surprise that they won by a significant margin. The other entries put much more effort into design, including obvious distinctive features for their service (which added weight) used their technical knowledge (or lack of it) to build an effective vessel and spent a heap of time working (and having fun) together as a team. They were even prepared to allow some senior staff members to participate. OK they didn’t win, but was that what it was really all about? Well, yes and No!
Yes, there was a trophy (or two) awarded and so that was part of it. But it was much more about being involved with a community event, raising funds for charity and having fun! That is exactly like life! Some people are so driven to win that they lose sight of what makes life worth living. They give up so many things, and relationships in their eagerness for the prize only to find out too late it was not worth what they paid for it. However, that does not mean that you should go to the opposite extreme and fail to strive for excellence or have clear goals.
Seems to me that what is needed is balance! In my experience it is more about the journey than the destination. The fact is, there is not just one “winner” in the race of life, we all need to do our best and balance our priorities. We can all win AND enjoy the process. But what is the bottom line? What does God want from us? The Good book puts it like this, when God says:
Do you know what I want?
I want justice – oceans of it.
I want fairness – rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
(Amos 5:24 – The Message)
That is the sort of behaviour which really counts, and it doesn’t matter if others recognise it or not.
Chaplain Ian S Whitley