Doyll Andrews Blog
I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. -2 Timothy 4:7 NIV
In my 50 years on this planet, I have been blessed with glimpses of the life eternal that is promised by our Savior. This past Saturday, I witnessed one of those glimpses.
This past Saturday started very early. My youngest, who now runs cross country for Ben Franklin, had a meet at Woodland Park in Portage. Ansen’s race started shortly after 9:30; and Tracy and I had 12 minutes of excitement following him around the course cheering him on. He had his best finish in his young Cross Country career. The coach alerted us that Ansen’s team did very well and there was potential for him, individually, and the team to pick up some hardware for their efforts. So, we decided to stay the length of the meet to see the results.
Tracy and I have a habit, when we are done rooting for our children, to try to root on the kids who are struggling at the end of each race. For myself, I have been at the back of the pack so often that I know how much it means to get that little bit of encouragement from spectators. Tracy and I try to give that back as much as possible. You can find us clapping and shouting words of encouragement for the last runners. Throughout the rest of the morning, we were doing that for all of the other races. We were also enjoying catching up with other parents that we hadn’t seen in a while.
As the morning got warmer, the races kept moving along. The awards for the races would not begin until the last runner of the last race finished. The last race of the day, the eighth-grade boys, began. Most of the boys, flew out of the starting gate in a flurry. Unfortunately, there was one boy who could not keep up with that initial pace and was quickly left behind. Tracy and I quickly realized that this race was going to take much longer than anticipated.
We gathered at the area of the park where the race organizers set up a makeshift podium to wait for the awards ceremony to begin. I saw the eighth-grade boys fly by us. We sat waiting and saw from a distance the boys finishing up the back half of the course and running toward the last 3/4ths of the race. That is when I saw the one boy who started off struggling continue his efforts reaching the halfway point on the course. It was now hot and sweat was pouring off of every runner including this boy. Tracy and I clapped and cheered him on knowing the feeling of giving all that you have that day and realizing that you are only half-way to the finish line.
As he moved on to the back half of the course, the race organizers began gathering all the teams to sit around the makeshift awards podium. These middle schoolers were hot and tired from the long morning and becoming excited because the first runners of the last race were finishing. The wait grew longer. More and more of the eighth-grade boys were finishing. But the boy who was struggling had not completed 3/4th of the race yet. When he would reach that point, he would be running past the makeshift podium.
One of the race supervisors alerted the awaiting crowd that this boy was on his way. He asked the crowd of hundreds to cheer him on in encouragement as he struggled by to finish his race. The crowd cheered loudly for the boy, as expected, as he plodded across the field in front of everyone.
That is when I caught a glimpse of God’s Kingdom. Unexpectedly, the middle schoolers stood up and started clapping and encouraging him. Instead of impatience, they showed support and empathy. So much support and empathy, they started running alongside of him at his slow pace cheering and encouraging him to finish. I witnessed about 90% of the waiting kids get up and re-run the last portion of the course the boy had to finish. At least 50 kids or more joined that last runner. The kids cheered and cheered getting louder and louder as they ran with this boy struggling to finish. This boy who struggled with this race, received a hero’s welcome as he crossed the finish line. Not one kid, who was waiting for an award, was angry about the wait. Each one of them had a smile and clapped as one of their comrades was able to finish. It was a happy, raucous, and uplifting occasion.
I have often imagined that when I finish my faith journey, I would be greeted by my friends and family that had gone before. I never imagined it to be a raucous event until after this past Saturday.
Spiritual Journeys are often compared to races. The Paul quote is the most known comparisons. I know I have written a blog or two using that comparison. There are some parts of the race/spiritual journey where the running is easy and a breeze. There are other parts of our race/spiritual journey where we are like that boy, half-way through and feeling unable to finish the other half. I have had stumbles along the way that I am not proud of. I have had blessings that I know I do not deserve. There are times my faith allows me to soar, and times where my faith leaves, and I am struggling in my journey.
What I saw on Saturday was a promise. I know when I finish my race/journey, the eternal triumphant will be at my side encouraging me, cheering, and celebrating, like those kids did on Saturday. Jesus promised this in the parable of the prodigal son. The father threw a party when the son came home. I know my Holy Father will have a cheering section for every one of His believers when we come home. Love will win and we believers will be embraced with that everlasting love. From what I saw on Saturday, it will be most glorious thing you can ever imagine.