I stood ankle-deep in dandelions and squinted down the field. Twenty yards away, my husband held a daughter’s hand in each of his, and they jogged together—my favorite team of three. This was our first “summer fun run,” a community-sponsored event complete with ice cream treats and a ribbon for every child. It’s supposed to encourage kids to love running.
But mine hated it.
The age-six-and-under group rounded the corner to the final stretch while a swarm of parents cheered from the sidelines. I whooped and hollered, then held up my camera to snap the memory. That’s when my younger daughter’s face came into focus. Her mouth hung open, wailing, and tears streaked her cheeks.
“She cried the whole race,” my husband said, and I scooped our babe into my arms.
“What’s wrong?” I blotted her eyes with my sleeve and carried her to the ribbon station. “Didn’t you have fun?”
“Mommy, I tripped and I cried for you!”
“She did.” My husband chuckled sympathetically and filled in the details. Apparently, just past the starting flag, while my view was blocked by mobs of other children, our little one tripped on another kid’s foot and took a digger in the grass. She got up, cried “I want Mommy,” then kept running and bawling for a quarter mile.
God bless her. Only three years old, and already she’s discovered one of life’s greatest lessons.
Keep running—even if you have to cry all the way to the finish line.
I trip, too. Don’t you? We all mess up sometimes, or get hit with a bad turn. Call it an argument, a health scare, job stress, tantrums; doubt, fear, sorrow or pride. There are lots of ways to stumble and fall. We hurt. We cry out to God, “I want you! Where are you?”
But sometimes God seems distant. We can’t make his face out in the crowd. So the best we can do is keep running toward him, and trust he is cheering us on.
“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. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart,” (Hebrews 12:1–3).
Next time you’re down, consider him. Jesus got a few sneakers hurled in his path, too. Temptation. Betrayal. Crucifixion. Where was God in all of that?
He was in charge.
All the suffering in Jesus’ life was part of God’s purpose and plan to save the world. Don’t you think we can trust he has our obstacles covered, too?
When the fun run was over, my girls sat buckled in their car seats slurping Dairy Queen star kiss bars, merry as can be.
“I’m so proud of you both.” I turned around to smile at their blue sorbet mustaches. “You finished the race! You were so brave! Do you want to do the fun run again? There’s another one coming up in two weeks.”
“Will they have treats there?” My three-year-old perked up.
“Yes, sweetheart,” I laughed. “There will be lots of treats.”
And the same goes for us. God promises great rewards for those who finish the race.
I’m pretty sure heaven is way better than ice cream.