We had a fantastic week that ended with the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon followed by watching the Vilonia Lady Eagle softball team compete in the 5A state championship game at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Our girls' game didn't end the way we wanted, but they had one heck of a season. One of the girls told me their team motto all year was, "Win or lose, give God the glory!"
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -- 1 Corinthians 10:31
She took the loss hard. When I saw her after the game, her eyes were red and puffy. She had obviously shed a lot of tears. That was about 30 minutes after the game ended, after they'd gathered and talked as a team, after they'd cleared the dugout so the next team could move in. More importantly though, it was after they'd congratulated the other team at the pitcher's mound. In those minutes immediately following the game, our team and their opponent gathered at the mound and prayed and I saw this same young lady throw her arms around a friend on the opposing team to congratulate her. They lost the game, but they kept their dignity and sportsmanship.
They upheld their team motto.
This bunch of high school girls can teach the rest of us (even us distance runners) an important lesson. What we as athletes do on the street, on the field, on the court, or on the course is bigger than our school, our team, or ourselves. People watch what we do and they see how we act. Regardless what sport you participate in, people watch and look up to you. Someone, somewhere is watching you when you compete. Someone is in awe of what you can do when you compete.
I can't tell you how many people have told me they could never run a marathon, 13.1 miles, or even a 5K. They're young, old, large, small...they come in every shape and size. That's the ice breaker, the opening of the door that allows me to witness, to tell them I can't run those miles either...not on my own.
It gives me the opportunity to explain that the strength, motivation, and discipline to run are all gifts from Jesus Christ. I couldn't keep running in the heat and cold, the rain and burning sun, the wind and stifling humidity without the hope and knowledge that I can make it through the pain, discomfort and even agony. But I can run because I'm not running for me.
"19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -- Matthew 28:19-20
And that's what it's all about. Whether you're competing on a softball field or a marathon course, it's about witnessing for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God gives each of us gifts, some to run and some to play softball, and others are given all sorts of different gifts. These gifts come with a responsibility, a responsibility to use them to glorify Christ and lead others to follow Him.
Training Week: May 14 - May 20
Looking at this week's journal, it doesn't appear too impressive. Barely over 30 miles total, and the half marathon I ran wasn't in a really good time. But the number of miles and the time on the clock at the finish line don't tell the whole story. Just like the scoreboard showing those girls lost the championship game 5-2 didn't tell the whole story.
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 3:14
A lot of people define success by the trophy or award given to the victor in any competition, but there's a far greater prize we seek. It won't be something we can put on the mantle, or hang on the wall. You won't see a picture of it posted on the internet. The prize we should all be seeking is the one those girls were seeking when they took the field at Fayetteville last weekend--a place in Heaven, seated with our Lord and Savior. Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again so that He could go and prepare a place for us. That place is what we seek. It's why we compete.
I'm proud of that bunch of young high school girls who have all that figured out, and I look forward to watching them play again next year!
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.