Monday Devotional
Dear Friend,
A few years ago some parishioners and I organized a running club at an inner city elementary school. We ran with the kids two days a week and tried to find two races each semester for the kids to run. I recall one young man, not particularly athletic, who joined us. “Greg” was dedicated, showing up each week for the practices. He was slow and sometimes complained along the way (I do the same.) When we saw him struggling, one of the coaches would run with him and offer words of encouragement. He was not the fastest runner, but he kept going.
After a while, we signed the students up for a 10K (6.1 mile) run. We had about 8-10 kids so we all began together, but soon the kids were spread out along the course. Some of the kids were swift and the coaches would run with them to encourage them to finish strong. A few of the kids finished at or near the top in their age brackets.
And then there was Greg. When others had crossed the finish line, I went back to find him. He was nearing the finish line, but visibly struggling. We ran together and I offered words of encouragement. He kept going. When he got to the finish line, Greg picked up his pace. He actually began to sprint! He crossed the line with his arms in the air, his fellow classmates cheering him on. All of the kids received a medal for finishing and proudly wore them to school the next Monday.
The school principal, who was a great supporter of the runner’s club, pulled the coaches aside a few weeks later. He told us that Greg had continued to wear his medal to school each day. When he saw one of his classmates struggling, maybe with a perplexing math problem or just feeling down, Greg would show them his medal and tell them that they could do anything they set their mind to. His experiences running had convinced him that he could overcome any obstacle on his quest to the finish line. And he shared that belief with those around him.
This Saturday will be the annual Mill Race Marathon. Participants will be running for many different reasons. For some it will be about physical fitness…a good reason to run. For others it is the competitiveness…whether running to beat other runners or just to surpass their own goals. But to all who complete the course, there will be a feeling that they will carry away from the finish line, the belief that with determination and perseverance they can accomplish anything. It isn’t about winning, it is about finishing a difficult task. When faced with the daily struggles of life, the obstacles that are inevitable, they will believe that anything is possible.
To all who are participating in this week’s race, I offer my sincere encouragement. May you run the race that is set before you with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1.) And to each of us, I offer the words of one unlikely runner who came to believe in himself and used that as a springboard to support others telling them, “Whatever you are facing…you can do this!”