“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . .” Hebrews 12:1, NASB
I’m often mystified by this idea that God has a plan while at the same time I chose how to live my life. An astounding juxtaposition, if you’re inclined to give it careful thought, and not one I can give an account for. I won’t try here. But I saw something the other day that drew my thoughts toward that—hopefully you can follow.
My kindergarten son had his end-of-the year track meet yesterday, and there was a race that made me cry. He wasn’t even in it, but even now, just thinking about it, I’m tearing up.
See, there’s a little girl among the many five and six-year-olds who is unique. We call them special needs now. I think this darlin’ is just special, though. She lined up on the field for the short race, alongside her para-professional, because among her many challenges in life, she is visually impaired and nearly deaf. Taking her mark, the gym teacher yelled ‘go,’ and the kids were off. She straggled behind, running helter-skelter all over the half a football width course, redirected often by her para-pro, and came in a long dead last. But that wasn’t what yanked tears out of me.
Over half of the staff stood near the finish line, cheering our sweet little princess on. The group, including the children that had finished, erupted with cheers. And—here’s the best part–our principal, who is a large man—a former Marine with the capacity to intimidate a full-grown adult, not to mention a small child (but, it’s worth noting here, he does not. At all. He knows them all by name, and those kids adore him—I know because my son will tug on my hand, should we chance come across him, and say, ‘Mommy, there’s Mr. Garcia. Can I go say hi?’), this man reached down and scooped the girl in his arms, giving her a heroic high-five and a well-done hug.
I cried. I’m still crying.
I don’t think there was a single kid on that field who didn’t wish they were her at that moment. And who could blame them—wouldn’t you?
That child was congratulated because she gave it her all. She ran with endurance. She did the best she could with the resources she had. She was not in competition with the children around her. Her goal was singular: to finish the race, not to win it.
So, too, should our goal be. We should not be comparing ourselves to the Christians around us, the ones with better eyesight, stronger legs or more glamorous spiritual gifts. We should run our best, to the best of the abilities Christ has given us. And if we do that, when we cross the finish line, we’ll receive a welcome that would make even burly Mr. Garcia weep.
Oh, to be swept into the arms of my savior and receive His praise.