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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)

TITLE: Passing on the Inside
By Joanney Uthe


I could hear another runner behind me. Closer and closer she came. Would I be able to keep the lead with only half a lap left in the race? In my first three track meets, I’d never had another runner this close this late in the race. Focus. Keep my eyes forward and on the finish line. I pondered whether I had the strength to sprint the remaining part of the race.

She’s trying to pass on the inside! My coach said always to pass on the outside. As I rounded the curve in the track, I took a few strides to the inside of the lane. If she didn’t know the rules of etiquette in distance running, maybe I can still get her to follow them. I heard her drop back a few paces before passing on the outside. Thankfully, I was able to pass her again and win the race. Both coaches noticed my tactic and congratulated me on my “smart” race, confirming that I had been in the right.

Four years later, as a more experienced racer, I watched my hero, Zola Budd, run the 3000 meters in the 1984 Olympics. The same age as me, Zola had broken world records running barefoot, only to have the records denied for political reasons. Now she was running as a British citizen and I wasn’t about to miss her Olympic debut! Zola led a close race with Mary Decker Tabb coming up behind. Decker Tabb tried to pass Zola on the inside, just as Sharon had tried to pass me, clipping Zola’s heals several times. Zola took a few strides to the inside of the lane and Decker Tabb fell, unable to finish the race. Zola, changing her focus from winning to what had happened, lost sight of the finish line and fell back, finishing seventh in the race.

How often we let the small mishaps of life take our focus off the race to which God has called us to run. One mistimed “Mom” and we loose our patience. One added activity puts our schedule in disarray. One harsh word shatters our confidence. One sin changes our lives forever.

In my early twenties, I walked away from God and went my own way. In the race of my life, I let a boyfriend pass God on my list of priorities. The consequences of ignoring God were delayed compared to the consequences of ignoring the convincing threats and fists of my boyfriend. I knew I was “living in sin” and what sin meant, but I had fallen down somewhere in the race.

Unlike Mary Decker Tabb, I was, by God’s grace, able to get back up and to get back in the race. I broke up with the boyfriend two months before we were to be married, but the consequences of that sin and the abuse of that relationship have affected the way I relate to the man I did marry. Though still able to run the race, I have been injured by that fall.

Galatians 5:7 says, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (NIV) Life is full of events that will either cause us to take our focus off God or cause us to run a smarter race. Our temporary loss of patience or hurried schedule may be the junior high runner who decided to pass on the outside lane, causing us to momentarily glance away from the goal. Yet, all of us will experience the World Class runner try consistently and intentionally to pass on the inside lane, clipping our heals with pain and temptation. Will we allow these experiences to trip us and cause us to fall? Will they succeed in taking our focus off the race God called us to run? More importantly, will we get back in the race and use the experience to further God’s kingdom.

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This article has been read 847 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 02/22/07
Great lessons here. The part where you were describing the race seemed a bit anti-climatic. I would have added in a bit more detail about the race itself. Also, the last sentence should end in a question mark, not a period. Great job over all though. Keep writing!
Sue Dent02/24/07
Wonderful, wonderful writing. Great analogy. Well-written and very timely. Oh, and right on topic!!! Excellent!
Betty Castleberry02/24/07
A lot of food for thought here. This is well written. Very nicely done.
Jacquelyn Horne02/24/07
Good story. Liked the pov. I would have liked to have the two races brought together a little less abruptly. Maybe just a few words to tie them together. (This is one of my writting bad points.) But all in all, this was an interesting, well written story.
Patty Wysong02/24/07
Soooo good. You drew me in and clobbered me with a lesson! I like that.
Joanne Sher 02/25/07
Excellent devotional. Your tie-in was great, and the message awesome. Don't even THINK about going back to beginners!
Jan Ackerson 02/25/07
Very nice--this is the way to do a devotional--with real-life examples and real-life lessons learned. Well-written, too.

Small spelling error: "heals" for "heels".

This is very good writing.
Brenda Craig02/25/07
This is a wonderful devotional and I took away a slightly different point based on this line: One harsh word shatters our confidence.

Always remember how your words can hurt or even stop another dead in their tracks. May my words always be kind. Thank you for a wonderful devotional based on real life issues.
Marilee Alvey02/26/07
This was wonderfully done. It was a fresh insight and gave me an AHA! moment. At 55, I sometimes think I have none of those left. I remember well that race of Zola Budd's. I never knew the "cause" behind it. Fascinating. I like how you drew your experience into Zola's experience. The lesson learned was terrific, something we all need to learn. There are a few grammatical errors here, but you have a winning devotional here!
Tabiatha Tallent02/26/07
Very good devotional. I love to read a devotional that I can relate to a real life experience. Good work!
Jen Davis02/26/07
A very good message. “How often we let the small mishaps of life take our focus off the race to which God has called us to run.” In fact, I liked that entire paragraph. I also liked the contrast of your own experience with another runner to make your point. Good job on this devotional.
Bonnie Way02/26/07
Good devotional here; you tie things together very nicely. I really liked your descriptions at the beginning - it felt like we were in the race with you.
Michelle Burkhardt02/27/07
I liked your title and, more importantly, your message. I can so relate to the line, "One mistimed “Mom” and we loose our patience." Nice Job.
T. F. Chezum02/27/07
Very well written and very good message. This is definitely food for thought. Great job.
Sara Harricharan 02/28/07
Pretty good, great lesson woven in here. I liked the front piece with passing on the inside, and using a 'famous' runner. Great title and great writing, thanks for sharing! ^_^
Donna Powers 02/28/07
Very interesting and well paced story. I saw your point clearly because of your apt example. Thanks so much for sharing this