They took off from the start line. Running in the opposite direction of us, away from their families and their friends. Backs to us as they excitedly bound off into the wilderness.
A path with forest on each side. Tall trees, winding paths, and from a mama stand point, lots of hazards and things to fear like poison ivy, snakes, and rocks to trip over.
I watched my son leave the start line with his mind set on completing the race in his personal best time. Suddenly I realized, I can’t see him. I can’t cheer him on along the way. I can’t be there if he falls. What if he takes a wrong turn? What if….
As these thoughts ran through my mind and I verbalized them to a sweet friend of mine I realized how similar this is to life.
As I looked into her eyes and spoke of my fears, I realized how petty they must sound to her.
You see, her baby goes off to college next year. He leaves her home in a vehicle each day…and HE IS DRIVING!!!! He walks through high school halls where temptations and social media are predators. Her baby runs a different race in an unknown wilderness where she too may feel far away.
I realized then just how much we need to pray for one another. We must lift each other’s children and we should do so without ceasing!
I also heard this truth echo in my mind…. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not part from it. ~Proverbs 22:6 ESV
As the team trains for the meets they get stronger. They are able to endure more. They learn their limits.
When they are weak because they aren’t breathing correctly, they make changes in the next race.
When they cramp because they are dehydrated, they choose more water the day before the next race.
When they see weakness, they address it and make changes in order to turn it into a strength for the future.
Our kid’s spiritual “meets and races” are this way as well.
We, as the adults, surrounding them, can walk with them. We are able to help coach and guide them along these races in their younger years. Not only as parents, but as teachers, leaders, aunts, friends.
We all have a part in their training regimens and we can all pray for them as they run off into what appears to be wilderness at the time.
Some of us may teach how to breathe right.
Some of us teach how to defeat the obstacles they may face.
Some teach how to pace and how to stretch.
Some of us are placed along the course to coach in those critical moments and when the athlete faces that situation again, they hear reminders of our voice. “Don’t look back…look forward…..kick it in and finish strong!”
This example found in cross country resembles our faith in so many ways...
Are we breathing in the Holy Spirit?
Are we covered in the armor of God so we can face obstacles with strength, power and might?
Can we trample the enemy under our feet?
Do we know the voice of our Father?
Are His words in our heart in such a way that we can still hear them long after the reading of the text has taken place?
Don’t we have a team of coaches who pull for us even when we can’t see them?
I do. I am so very thankful when I turned my back and ran in the opposite direction that they did not turn theirs.
No, they pulled for me and when I came out on the finish line side, there they were. “Come On now! You can do this!!!! Push a little harder you’re almost to the finish line!!!” In their voice I found strength and the motivation to run a little bit faster.
I know, many times, they wanted to jump onto the track and carry me when my legs felt they couldn’t go anymore. However, they let me finish.
You see, they understood that I had to run my own race and they would walk alongside me, sometimes jog alongside me, to let me know that I wasn’t alone. In their presence and their voice, I learned that they believed in me and I could finish this race well.
Fast forward about 15 minutes from start and we can see our runners!! They come back around the corner, tired but dedicated.
As we see our athletes approaching the finish line, we are so very proud of them. We cheer and we celebrate. “Job well done team!!!”
After they catch their breath, they explain what the course was like. What they saw.
The “scary wilderness” I once saw was a beautiful creation that ended up being the prettiest run they had all season.
So, as you and your loved ones travel out onto courses that may be unfamiliar, unknown, I pray that you go safely and that the Lord will bless your journey.
Remember to keep praying and keep your eyes focused on Him.
For those of you who coach, whether it’s an athlete or a life…do not grow weary! They need you!!! We need each other.
For those who are truly facing wilderness I pray God will step in to protect, to guide, and make His voice known along the course.
For those who have taken myself and my children under their wings, loved us, and taught us, thank you.
May He bless and keep you always.