Ryan and I went to a track meet this afternoon, and we had a great time watching some great races. As always, there are lots of lessons to learn from running. That's why Paul often used running a race as a metaphor for the Christian life. Here are a few things I learned today:
1. We're never alone and forgotten. We watched a young man from Big Spring set a new meet record in his division for the 1600 meters. As he started the last of four laps, most of the people in the stands seemed to know that he had a chance to set a new record, so as he ran the last hundred yards or so, there was no one even close to him, but we were all cheering him on from the stands, hoping he would break the record. This reminded me what the Bible says in Hebrews 12:1: 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. There are many people who have gone before us who are rooting for us to finish the race.
2. Never give up. Another exciting race involved a young man running the anchor leg of his school's 4x400 meter relay team. When he got the baton, he was in fourth place, a good 20 yards behind the leader. As I watched the race, he wasn't even on my radar until Ryan said, "Hey, look at the guy from Crane." Well, the guy from Crane came from behind and barely nipped the front runner in a photo finish. We didn't really know who had run the race until they made the official announcement. Talk about an exciting finish! So it doesn't matter how impossible the situation may seem, never give up!
3. Stay focused until the very end. This next lesson was heartbreaking. The 4x400 relay team from Lubbock High was in the lead for most of the race. At the very end of the race, the guy running the anchor leg made two critical mistakes that cost his team the victory. First, he allowed the guy in second place, who was right behind him, to have the inside track on the final stretch. Then, he completely lost his running form, lost his balance, and tumbled to the ground about ten yards from the finish line. I felt so bad for him and his team! I think the lesson is that we have to stay focused until the end of the race. It doesn't matter that we were in the lead if we get distracted and lose in the end.
4. Honesty is still the best policy. The announcer made an announcement that a young man from Marble Falls had set his running shoes, jacket, and a medal down on the field, and that they were now missing. He asked that if anyone had them, to please return them to the awards table. After the second time this announcement was made, I thought, "He may as well say goodbye to his medal and clothes." So, suffice it to say that the next announcement about the missing items totally surprised me. "Would the young man from Marble Falls please come by the awards table and pick up your shoes, jacket, and medal." Immediately, the crowd cheered and clapped, including me. We all still appreciate honesty, don't we?