“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
It was only the second year that my daughter had run track. She ran the 800 (two times around the track) in eighth grade. My husband, who ran track in high school, was convinced that our daughter’s race was the 400 (one time around) but the coach that year didn’t put her in the 400 race.
“That’s her race,” he assured me. I agreed. But we told her to do her best in the 800 and her time would come to show what she could do in the 400. At the sectional meet in eighth grade, I told her before she ran, “Leave it all on the track.” She took off and in the first lap of the race she was way ahead of the other girls. The first time around, her coaches and teammates were excited. “She’s going to state! She’s going to state!” they yelled.
I was on the cell phone with my husband who hadn’t been able to attend. I was giving him a blow by blow on the cell phone. He told me what to tell her as she came around the bend the first time. I was yelling his instructions to her from the sidelines.
But by the second lap, she ran out of steam and out of first place, just missing the opportunity to go to state.
But now she was in high school. Throughout the season I had been to every track meet, providing water, snacks and cheers for the fledgling team. Our daughter did well in cross country so her coach wanted to put her in the distance races. We asked him to give her a chance to try the 400.
“The 400 is her race,” my husband said. I agreed.
My husband decided to coach our daughter himself for “her race.” He started taking her to the track after school, timing her, teaching her the fundamentals, giving her advice, showing her proper techniques and track meets on television. The evening before sectionals I took her to the track because Coach Dad was working. I timed her and tried to offer some advice about running (although I never ran track in high school. I was on the football field being a pom pom girl.) She promptly told me, “But Daddy said…” I deferred to Daddy. “Do whatever Daddy said,” I told her.
The coach had promised he would give our daughter a chance to run the 400, but she never had the opportunity during the regular season. Sectionals would be her first chance to run her race.
Her first race was a relay, each girl had to run around the track two times. By the time our daughter got the baton, her team was almost a lap behind. My parents were there cheering. My son was yelling. I was yelling. My husband was cheering and coaching. As she made it to the final stretch, we screamed for her to kick. I saw the determination in her face as she ran the last 100 meters, buoyed by the cheers of her family and teammates. They were in last place, but they finished the race.
Then her time came to run the 400--finally. She didn’t win. But she knocked almost 10 seconds off her time from the day before when I took her to the track. We told her how proud we were. We encouraged her that she was running against juniors and seniors who had more experience. She was happy and excited about her time (14 seconds from qualifying for state) and looking forward to training and getting ready to run her race next year.
In this journey called life, we also have to run our race. We have to remember what our Daddy-- Abba-- tells us. We can’t listen to folks who haven’t even run the race. We have to do whatever Daddy God said.
We have to eat right. Put the right stuff inside of us. Watch what we consume. Eat the whole roll of God’s word. Drink the living water. Keep practicing. Keep training. Keep running. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1Corinthians 9:25
Even when it looks like you’re behind and failing, don’t give up. Keep running your race.
We are encompassed by a great cloud of witnesses-- those who have ran the race, those who are on the sidelines cheering for and encouraging us. But each of us has to run our own race. During parts of the race, we will be on the other side of the track and we won’t be able to hear the cheers. We might feel all alone. That’s when we have to remember what Coach D.A.D., our heavenly father God, said. And sometimes when we’re rounding the bend, the coach will be there, waving his arms and giving us instructions. Or even if we can’t see the coach, the Holy Spirit will be there giving us His instructions, telling us what Daddy is saying.
You may feel like you’re losing and others have passed you by. But don’t worry. Keep running your race and pressing toward the mark. And after while you’ll get past sectionals and go to state and win the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. And you like, Paul, will be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)