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.
– Hebrews 12:1
I love to watch you run.
You came home after that first track meet and told me how hard it was near the end.
How you felt like you couldn’t breathe and the air couldn’t get into your lungs fast enough.
That you felt sick from the effort it took to put one foot in front of the other during the last stretch of the race.
You weren’t sure you wanted to run again the next day, at the next school track meet.
You weren’t sure you were up for it.
I knew you were.
I’ve seen you run.
I’ve seen that look in your eye when a challenge comes your way.
You size it up and figure out if it’s worth pursuing, and if it is – stand back!
And watch him run.
You decided the track meet was worth running, that you didn’t want to quit, that you wanted to run the race you’d signed up for.
I was glad, because I love to watch you run.
I don’t care what place you finish, I don’t care if a million other kids cross the line before you.
I just want to know you are running your race.
In your time, with all that you’ve got, finishing however you finish.
With that look of perseverance in your eye.
And so you took your place at the starting line with about 80 other young men…
You set a pace early on, content to run with your friends in the middle of the pack.
I saw more lime-green shirts in front and back of you, and a couple of friends from other schools in the mix.
It was to be three times around the path that wound through fields and forests that overcast day.
At least there was no rain to slow you guys down or make the paces heavier with mud.
You were all free to just run, with a cool breeze on your face and beautiful fall colours surrounding you.
Two times around now, moving up the pack a little, your steps were still sure, your footing was still solid.
You were running the race before you, and you were almost finished.
Getting a little harder to run, but you kept at it. You couldn’t see your friends now – they were spread out on the trail.
Sometimes it’s harder to run when we can’t see those we’re running with.
But you knew they were there, somewhere on the same path, running the same race.
And knowing that makes all the difference.
There are others.
You are not alone.
Just keep running.
Third time around now.
We waited for you at the finish line, wondering how you were feeling on the last leg of the race.
Then we saw you, running towards us, steps still sure, footing still solid.
You were going to finish well.
You persevered and you ran your race.
We were so proud of you!
You joined the friends that had finished before you, and you waited for those who were still to come.
You were done.
Then… a lime-green shirt comes around the bend… but he’s not heading towards the finish line.
No… he’s only on round two… he’s still got one more whole round to run in his race.
He was pushed into the trees early on in the race… he was slowed down by others… you tell us his story as you run over to him.
You ask your coach if you can run with him on his last lap, and she calls out for teammates to join him, to help him finish his race.
A dozen of lime-greens run over, and run for a time with him.
Some fall back after a while.
I look for you, but you are long gone, running right beside him, helping your teammate to finish his race.
Helping with your presence, just being there with him, letting him see another runner, you know it makes all the difference.
And so you run your final lap.
You thought you were finished, but God had called you to a different sort of race that day.
One that didn’t end with your three laps around the track.
When your teammate came around the corner, I saw the look in your eye.
You decided it was worth it to pursue the challenge in front of you.
To run another lap when you felt so tired from running your own race.
There was no hesitation in you.
You simply put one foot in front of the other and set your face to run – again.
And so we waited at the finish line – again.
Knowing this time you would really be finished.
Your race would end when every last teammate had crossed the line.
It was your final lap that inspired me the most that day, Josiah.
The lap that would never be counted in any official race records.
The lap you ran when only a few were watching.
The lap that made God smile BIG.
Yes, I sure do love to watch you run.