1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Hubs is home today, courtesy of the federal government’s observance of President’s Day, and I indulged myself this afternoon by sitting in our bedroom recliner, half dozing, half watching the Olympics, half knitting a dishcloth. Okay, that’s three halves and doesn’t make mathematical sense, but math was never my strong suit. Anyway, I was watching the men’s cross-country skiing competitions. Apparently, there were something like 94 competitors from 50 countries represented in this one race. The racers take off in 30 second increments with the top 30 or so favorites taking off somewhere in the first 50. It’s interesting to watch because each man was basically racing against the clock, not against the other racers. The tenth racer has no way of knowing how the first or 94th competitor has done, so he is skiing somewhat blindly. Of course, the commentators made sure that we, the viewers, were clued into the international favorites and totally ignored the poor skier from Nepal who was something like 40 years old and had next to zero chance of winning any sort of medal. They definitely didn’t cover the skier who came in dead last.
At certain points along the course, men and women would run alongside certain skiers and yell out information to them, telling them their times, shouting out encouragement. I’m guessing the athletes had a mental formula they could plug those numbers into to help them gauge how they were doing and when to apply more exertion or make their move. This particular race was between 6-7 miles and lasted less than 20 minutes, but the skiers were covering difficult terrain and were at times completely isolated on the trail. It must have been a welcome sight and sound to see their coaches running and shouting out helpful, encouraging words.
I think about this leg of the race I’m in right now. The leg where I have small children everywhere and am utterly exhausted most of the time. This leg where their hands still fit so nicely in mine and I can still pick them all up. I think about how all the days and nights can run into each other and I can feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog’s Day.” I think about how it feels like I’m just trekking along without any real clear evidence that we’re making any progress. In fact, there are days that it seems we are actually going backwards! Suddenly though, my Coach appears from out of nowhere shouting words of encouragement to me. His Word is so faithful to me and ministers to this tired mama in ways I didn’t even know I needed. And someone offers to bring us dinner. Or watch the children. Or sends an encouraging card. Or calls just to say “hello,” and wants to listen and pray. Or my children show some clear, sure sign that they are growing spiritually.
And I can keep going. The race goes on. I can use that encouragement as fuel.
I wish they would have shown the skier from Nepal. I wanted to see him finish. I wanted to cheer him on, just for finishing, just for staying the course. I wanted to see the very last competitor collapse in a heap right over the finish line. Because you just know each of those men did their very, very best and pushed themselves to their physical limits. They deserved congratulations.
I’m so glad God has promised us words of encouragement:
21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:21
Thank You, Lord for Your encouragement, for Your Word, for Your faithfulness to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.