"There will be days when you feel defeated, exhausted, and plain old beat-up by life's whiplash. People you love will disappoint you--and you will disappoint them. You'll probably struggle with some kind of mortal appetite. Some days it will feel as though the veil between heaven and earth is made of reinforced concrete. And you may even face a crisis of faith. In fact, you can count on trials that test your testimony and your faith...
Now is the day when His kingdom is being established once and for all, never again to be taken from the earth. This is the last leg of the relay. This is when He needs His strongest runners."
-Sheri L. Dew, "You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory"
|State track, 2010. My nerves are hidden behind the smile.|
With three years of high school track and four of high school cross country under my belt, I have had my fair share of running relays. I've run every leg possible at one time or another, and I have to admit that I certainly enjoyed running the second leg best--I always felt the least pressure there. There, I was coming in after my first teammate had already run and no one could definitely tell how I was placing compared to other relay teams. There were still two more legs to follow me, so there was no particular hurry to pull ahead, and all I had to do was run hard and hand off the baton.
Generally, I only ever ran relays for the fun of it anyway. My events were the mile and 2-mile. I ran long and hard, and most crowds simply don't feel like watching a relay of four girls each running a 2-mile race. And understandably so--if I weren't such a running nerd, I'd feel the same way. When I did run a relay, though, it was often the 4x800 during indoor track, every so often a sprint medley team's 800 leg, and on rare occasions I'd run a 400 leg. (A distance girl can only shrink her races down so far before placing begins to suffer significantly.) It was all random, and I enjoyed the laid back races my relays often were.
But junior year was different.
The girls' head coach decided to put together a real sprint medley team. Not one that we threw together the day of the meet, but one that consistently ran together at every meet with a same end goal: state. It didn't matter how we qualified, it didn't matter what it took, we were going to state.
The sprint medley is an interesting race. Two 200 meter legs, a 400 meter, and an 800 meter to finish. One mile divided by four girls, and I was chosen to run the 800 leg--half the distance of the race, and about as short as I could go and still do reasonably well. The legs are always run in the above listed order, which placed me, for no reason other than standard protocol, as the final leg.
Each race, I stood and watched my teammates run their best. I cheered, I hoped, I prayed. I jumped in excitement, and clenched my teeth in apprehension. "Yesyesyes," "gogogo," and "come ooooonnnnn, comeoncomeoncomeon" became new and commonly used parts of my vocabulary--often whispered under my breath as I circled around, watching each stride around the all-weather track (which was expected to live up to its name every meet).
But the moment that baton was placed in my hand, it no longer mattered what had happened in the first three legs. Whether the other girls had run well or not, it was always up to me to pull it in and finish our race strong. The girls ran hard, they gave their best, and I was expected to do the same--plus pick up any slack that may have been left along the way. That is simply the nature of the final leg, no matter the race.
And so, here we are in the final leg of the race against sin. We, however, have been placed in this leg for more valid a reason than the "standard protocol" order of events. Each of us have been placed here because the Lord knows that we can handle it. He knows that we will fight for the truth, He knows us to be His strongest runners.
There is a lot of weight carried in that knowledge--weight to carry, but also to strengthen. What more comforting, encouraging, and uplifting knowledge can we have than to know that our Father in Heaven trusts most absolutely in our ability?
If God, who knows all, has enough faith in you to send you here as His strongest runner, can't you find the faith in yourself to run your best?
He is counting on you. He is counting on each of us. He knows your potential--He has seen what you have done, and what you can yet do. He knows what you can become. Trust that He has sent you to earth at this time for a purpose, trust that you are strong enough, and trust that He will strengthen you beyond your own abilities. You are never alone. You are running this race with others against sin, and those who have come before and will yet come are cheering from the sidelines.
And through it all, you will be further strengthened and become more able to thrive through the challenges. You will see the Lord's guiding hand. And, if you choose to listen, you will hear the affirmations that you are, indeed, one of His strongest runners--destined for greatness.