Last month was our daughter’s birthday.
Birthdays are a big deal in our family. The big day begins with breakfast in bed, enjoying your favorite donut, bagel or muffin topped with a candle and birthday wishes sung off key. Lunch is at a place of your choosing and then dinner is your favorite meal cooked at home finished off with another blazing cake and another rendition of birthday singing.
But now that our kiddos are grown and away from home those birthday traditions don’t always happen on the big day or in that order. New scenarios are played out and we make adjustments to schedules and locations.
So when our middle daughter’s birthday came around last month and her birthday schedule began with an early morning cross-country meet, we planned a surprise visit.
Our middle daughter takes after me in some wonderful ways and characteristics. One is that knowing the plan and all pertinent details brings stability and security to her life.
Surprises and the unexpected causes all kinds of anxiety cartwheels in both of our brains and surprises are not always enjoyable.
We knew we couldn’t show up before her race and say, “HEY!!” because any kind of race jitters would have shot her into orbit at the sight of us at the start line or along the race route. So instead we hid in the bushes.
It was a tough race for the whole team.
The guy’s team ran first and their frustration was clearly visible while our girl lined up for her own race.
- The course wasn’t marked well.
- The designated race officials on the course weren’t clear in their directions and some team members ended up running a whole extra mile loop.
- Frustration from the guy’s team was visible to our girl.
After the start of the race we cheered from a distance and watched as she ran her race.
For her, this race was different than her other races.
- Where was coach? Why wasn’t he at the mile markers?
- What’s going on with my team?
- Why aren’t they cheering me on?
Do you ever feel like that?
- Running alone out there wondering “where’s my team?”
- Worried about those who ran before you and their mishaps?
- Wondering how your race will compare to theirs?
She kept running.
The course wasn’t what she expected and was somewhat confusing but she kept putting one foot in front of the other.
The path and direction of our days may be unfamiliar but our will and faith disciplines us to keep running even when we can’t see the finish line.
Sometimes that’s what finishing the race looks like….One foot in front of the other.
- Our life placement isn’t what we thought it would be… but we keep going.
- Our timing is off and beating our personal best on this particular race ain’t goin’ happen…but we keep going.
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…
You may be running some difficult life races right now.
- Health issues and wondering where your road is going to bend.
- Strained finances and hoping it’s enough to get over the next hill.
- Relationship struggles and not knowing if those with you are going to keep running with you.
All of these difficult races whittle away on our psyche and our race morale.
Our hearts pump and our feet pound on the pavement but for how long? How long can we keep this up?
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…
We can’t always see the finish line. We don’t always get encouraging words from the sidelines.
But we keep going… one foot in front of the other.
And even as I type those words I think to myself, “Rachel, that’s not very encouraging.” But it’s truth.
We don’t always get to see where the path bends. We don’t always get the accolades and praises from the crowds.
Sometimes life is difficult and hard and we’re barely trudging along on the path; but we keep running the race one foot in front of the other.
We do the next right thing because we know within us that it is the right thing to do even when it’s difficult and even when we want to stop and walk away from the path.
We keep going. One more step. One more time, one foot in front of the other.
And then it happens… we come out from behind the tree line and we see it — The finish line. It’s in sight!
As proud parents, we stood at the finish line waiting for our girl to cross the line.
We could see the fatigue. We could see the strain. We could see she was tired.
But there was also endurance. There was discipline that her coach and team members and practice had built in her.
Keep going. Finish the race.
And then it happened.
She rounded the final bend and her father’s voice rose above the crowd.
You could see the bewilderment on her face.
She knew her father’s voice but how was it possible he was here now?
We could see her momentary confusion as she wondered if she was hearing correctly.
“COME ON, EMILY! YOU CAN DO IT!!”
She instinctively picked up her pace for that final push toward the finish. And as she pushed through, she spotted him there.
There at the finish line.
He had been there all along.
In our life race we are not alone.
Though at times we feel we’re running alone with unclear direction and an unsure path. Our Father has not abandoned us or left us to run alone.
Our Father is there.
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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)
- Would we like our race to be easy? ( I would)
- Would it bring greater assurance if we knew the path with all the curves and bends ahead? (It would definitely bring a bit more security and stability to our world of emotions.)
But our life race doesn’t work that way.
Instead we run the race marked out for us to the best of our ability and trust our Father’s presence with us.
We fix our eyes and our focus on the Truth that He is always with us — directing, strengthening and cheering us on.
We run our race, at times with fatigue, but never alone.
We run with questions about what’s ahead and what we’re leaving behind but never alone.
We keep running because He is with us. We run with one foot in front of the other until we reach the finish line.
Fix your eyes on Him because we never run alone,
Praying blessing on your life race today!