Giving it Your All

by Jennifer Slattery

A few years ago, I coached a middle school track team. Most of the kids were there to flirt, or gab, or…Okay, so I have no idea why they were there, but it certainly wasn’t to improve. During endurance training, they’d jog (or should I say, walk-shuffle-jog-shuffle) when I passed, only to resume their turtle pace as soon as I was out of view. Or so they thought. I suppose they never realized the span of our peripheral vision.

The lack of drive in most of the students irritated me, or perhaps confused me would be a better term, but honestly, I didn’t give them much thought. Instead, I focused on those that clearly wanted to be there–to learn and improve.

There was one boy in particular. He puked after every turn-out. Every one. At first I was concerned. I searched the internet for nutritional information, then relayed what I learned to him and his dad. Perhaps it was a salt deficiency. Maybe he was hungry, or hadn’t fully digested his food.

One by one, every reasonable explaination was eliminated. So, I began to watch him closely, then it made sense.

The boy gave his all, 110%, each and every practice.

I ran track and cross-country in school, and know what it feels like to cross the finish line spent, nauseas and trembling from exhaustion. In fact, most coaches would tell you if you’re not spent at the end of the race, then you didn’t give your all.

There’s nothing worse than standing on the other end of the finish line knowing you could have done better. Only now the race is over.

The Bible often equates our life to a race. In Hebrews 12, we are told to run with perseverance and to endure rigid training, knowing every tear, every struggle, every exhausting disappointment and panic-invoking computer crash, has a purpose.

“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 12:1-13

When I coached, I focused most on the athletes that worked hard. If they were going to give their all, I’d give them mine as well. And I pushed them hard. I ran along side them, saying, “Faster! Faster! Faster!” during our sprints. I watched them closely, pushing them to their brink, then allowing them to recover just long enough…but as soon as they caught their breath, I pushed them again.

Can we expect any less from God? Would we really want less?

Athletes know there’s no middle ground. You either go after the gold with everything you’ve got, or you get out of the race.

What race has God mapped out for you and how diligently are you training? Are you giving it your all or just trying to squeak by?

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, freelance writer, and biblical studies major at Calvary Bible College. In 2009 she won the HACWN writing contest in the book category, and was just recently acknowledged as the second place winner of the 2010 Dixie Kane writing contest in the inspirational category, placed fourth in the 2010 Golden Pen and finaled in the 2010 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest. She writes for Reflections in Hindsight, Christ to the World Ministries, The Christian Pulse and Samie Sisters, reviews for Novel Reviews and is the marketing representative for the literary website, Clash of the Titles.

Jennifer has a short piece appearing in Bethany House’s compilation book, Love is a Flame, forwarded by Gary Chapman (under a pen name) and another piece in Cathy Messecar’s A Still and Quiet Soul. She has written for Granola Bar Devotions, Afictionado, Bloom, the Breakthrough Intercessor, and the Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Visit Jennifer’s blog at: JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com

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