While Bethany winning the state championship in high jump was pretty exciting last week, that was not the only highlight of the day for me.
One of the best races occurred nearly at the end of the day. It was the two-mile race, and let me just say that I have the utmost respect for anyone who can run eight times around a track without stopping! We have a very good distance runner on our track team, and she's a ninth grader who just moved up to the high school team.
We knew she had a decent chance of winning, so everyone was watching her closely as the gun was fired. She got off to a good start, and looked strong going into the first turn. But then the unthinkable happened. She got tangled up with a couple of the other runners and went down hard. You could hear the entire crowd gasp in reaction to her fall. It appeared that her hopes of a state championship were dashed in that moment.
But, she got up and started running again. Slowly at first, then she gained speed, and before you knew it, she had regained her lead. And that girl ran at a steady pace, blood streaming down her leg from a gash on her knee, until she started the final lap of the race. And then she started to sprint. She crossed the finish line at least half a lap ahead of her nearest competitor. A state champion in the ninth grade.
The whole team celebrated with her. It was truly an inspiring thing to watch.
There are so many spiritual parallels that can be drawn from this story. But I'm just going to make one application.
Watching that girl run her race made me think about all of us who have lost children. We've been knocked down, hard. Harder than we ever thought possible. We are broken and bleeding. The pain is excruciating. There's an incredible temptation to just keep lying on the track and let the rest of the world run on by. And for awhile, it's okay to do that. But eventually we have to get up, so with God's help, we do. And even though we may walk with a limp for the rest of our lives, we keep walking, maybe eventually even working up to a steady jog. And the closer we get to the finish line -- Heaven -- we pick up speed. We are excited by the thought of sprinting into Heaven one day and celebrating with our Lord and our child.
Chapter 11 of Hebrews is sometimes called "the roll call of faith", because it is basically a list of the many heroes of the Bible who lived by faith ... Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Moses, Rahab, and many others, some of whom are not even named. Then Chapter 12 opens with these two verses, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 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."
Just like we were cheering this young runner on from the stands, we have a "great cloud of witnesses" who are cheering us on. I think it's very possible that our children are part of that cloud. Let's keep our eyes on Jesus and run with endurance, even if we are still bleeding, because there is joy set before us.