The race started like any other race: runners at the starting line, fans in the stands, excitement, and anticipation thick in the air. But this race was a big one. An indoor track and field conference championship for the collegiate women’s 600-meter run.
At the sound of the gun, the runners took off – each with a heart longing to win the race – each competing fiercely for the prize. Just three quick laps stood between the four athletes and their destinies. It was clear from the beginning this race would be tight.
My family and I watched online as the long and lean runners vied for the lead. In unison, we gasped with horror when, as they began the final lap, one of the competitors caught the slightest edge of another runner’s shoe and went crashing down onto the track.
My heart sank when she fell. I didn’t know this fallen woman, but I do know what it feels like to fall and to have your hopes dissolve in a split second. I felt the despair of the crash with her.
The fans in the crowd all stood to their feet and rallied cries of encouragement to the young runner. The seconds that followed will be etched into my heart and mind forever. She could’ve walked off the track and everyone would’ve understood.
But she didn’t quit.
She got up and kept running.
Now a full quarter-lap behind the other runners, the fallen runner fixed her eyes on the track before her and ran like the wind. With just half a lap to go, this determined young woman overtook third place. Unbelievable. The crowd swelled with amazement.
Then, just a hundred yards before the finish line, she inched up to the other two runners and – at the tape – leaned forward to win the race!
No. Stinkin’. Way!
The crowd went wild. My family went wild. What a race! What a fall! What a recovery! What a victory!
The next day, as I took my son to school, he and I had trouble connecting. I was frustrated with him; he was frustrated with me, and what I’d hoped would be a warm send-off to a great day became an icy goodbye as he got out of the car. I felt like a loser-mom and lamented to God about it on the drive home.
As I poured out my frustrations in prayer, the Lord reminded me of the race.
Like the young runner, I got tripped up on the shoes of another runner and fell, mid-race. Now, I had a choice. I could stew and allow my disappointments to keep me from running, or I could call on the grace of the Lord, put one foot in front of another, and get back in the race.
The writer of Hebrews talks about a cloud of witnesses that encourages others in faith, and as I prayed, I could almost hear them cheering me on.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
I got back up. I chose to run again by asking the Lord for the grace and strength to finish the day strong in Him. By the time my son got home from school, we had both cooled down. Grace ran before us. I asked him to forgive me for frustrating him and he did the same.
We all run. We all fall.
Each day brings fresh opportunities to experience the mercy, strength, and grace of God. When writing to the church of Philippi about the discipline of perseverance, the apostle Paul said this: “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things” (Philippians 3:13b-14).
Whatever you face today, friend, run.
Run to win the prize.
And when you fall; don’t throw in the towel, don’t point fingers, don’t stew, and don’t quit.
Get back up and keep running… in the mercy, strength, and grace of God.
Dear Lord, Thank You for grace. Please help me to run in your mercy and strength today.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
What one thing can you do today to move forward from where you are?
Grab your Bible and read the book of Philippians. It’s only four chapters long. You can do it! If you don’t have time to read the whole thing right now, then read a chapter a day for the next four days.
Love you guys!!