Five hours and thirty-one minutes.
For five hours and thirty-one minutes he pounded the pavement, putting his feet to his purpose. And for all those hours and all those miles, past crowds, houses, and fields in the November sun, he ran holding a sign in the air – “Chase Away Cancer”.
And he told me tonight, though he kept his headphones in his ears, he never needed them as he talked to the people around him. People who came alongside him to talk about his sign because they were survivors, neighbors, family, friends – each one a person whose life had been touched by cancer. They saw him identifying with it in his sign and they identified with him as they all ran together.
And this morning, as he geared up and prepared to walk out the door, Chase and his fuzzy head stumbled down the stairs before the sun was up, urging him to run fast, not slow down, and “Run like me, Dad”. And then Chase covered his fuzzy head against the frost and cold and stepped out along the route to cheer the runners on, holding a sign alongside his crazy, cheering grandfather, proclaiming that “sweat is liquid awesome”.
Five hours and thirty-one minutes later, Bob crossed the finish line for Chase and fighters and parents and friends everywhere. And he wasn’t alone. You put your hearts into this race with him, and today, nearly $5,000 dollars went to St. Baldrick’s in their tireless efforts to chase cancer far, far, away.
Sixteen of Chase’s every twenty-four hours are spent attached to an IV bag. This bag, its carrying case and the pump weigh about as much as he does (when the bag is full) and he must drag it behind him everywhere he goes. In addition to the weight, the cord has a short range, so he can only walk about two feet before it pulls and strains; reminding him to pick up the burdensome piece again. The moment it beeps (a notification that the cycle is complete) is the happiest moment of his day and as soon as he’s detached, he immediately starts running and jumping…two things he really can’t do without causing harm when the bag is on.
However, there was a day last week when the IV pump notified it’s completion, and instead of the jubilant “My baggy’s done!!” that I usually hear, there was silence. I went to him and said “Chase, your bag is done! Do you want me to take it off for you?” He sighed and said “Not right now, Mom. I’m playing…maybe later.” He had become so engrossed in his play that he was no longer energized to remove that awful shackle of a bag.
And I suddenly saw myself in this encounter…
How often I struggle with fear and sin that -with God’s help- I could lay aside! I could find peace, find rest, and be free of whatever burden holds me. He comes to me, much as I came to Chase and says “It is finished, this can be removed…will you let me do that for you?” …yet in my foolishness, I am content to play while my worry and fear is attached to my very life vein because I am too preoccupied to see that He stands there -more able than I will ever be- ready to remove it.
“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2
Take off the bag. It is finished.
Moment by moment.