Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)
TITLE: The Finish Line (ii)
By Sheila Mills
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After winning my first meet that spring, all the hours of practice, the blisters, sore muscles and learning how to control my breathing (the hard way!) had finally paid off. As the weeks progressed, I was elated to find myself having a successful season along with the rest of my teammates.
When the team traveled to the regional track meet, expectations were high. Our school had several good athletes with winning seasons that year. Throughout the day, we cheered for each other as our respective events took place. We watched as several of our teammates placed in the top three. We saw several more finish first and earn a spot at the state track meet.
Around mid-afternoon, I joined the other twenty-plus runners at the starting line, prepared to run two laps on a quarter-mile asphalt track. Jumping at the sound of the gun, I kept reminding myself to keep a steady pace as I had done in my previous races. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that race was not mine – not even close. I ended up finishing next to last.
Within a hundred feet of the finish line, I noticed two bystanders near the track. As I passed by, I heard them both laugh as one turned to the other and said, “I don’t know why she even bothered.”
I crossed the finish line, crushed but trying so hard not to show it. I was out of breath and energy. I was disgusted. I felt I had let down my teammates and my school. To add insult to what little was left of my pride, two strangers had selected me to be the source of their amusement.
It was a painful moment. But over time that incident evolved into a very precious memory, as God has used it several times to remind me to not get discouraged when I face a difficult season. It seems to be His unique way of telling me, “Keep focused on the finish line. Do you see me? I’m the One cheering you on.”
…And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith… (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT)
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