This past Saturday, my runner participated in a 5K race in our hometown. He hadn’t been training much, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out for him, especially in the heat. This particular course is pretty challenging with lots of curves and one too many uphills and not nearly enough downs. So I decided to sit this one out and become his cheerleader for the day.
At the mile marker, my momma and aunt met up with him to push him to run his hardest. At the mile and a half point, I took over giving him breathing tips and encouragement as we ran.
“Momma, my knee hurts.”
“Push through it son. You’re halfway there at 12 minutes in. You can do this.”
I patted him on the back and split off to let him run the next mile solo as I used backstreets to get closer to the finish.
Anxiously I waited near the top of the last hill, watching closely for his neon pink socks. Finally I saw him. I glanced at my watch and I knew if he pushed it, he was going to set a new personal best. So I did what any momma would do, I screamed like a lunatic at him to hustle. As soon as he met up with me, I started sprinting. I could see how tired he was but I knew he wouldn’t back off if I stayed right with him, making him run harder and talking him through the rest of the way.
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
“No, you’re not. Look at your time, son. Home stretch….now RUN!!”
My aunt met us near the finish and together, with my momma, hubs and the rest of our kids looking on, we basically raced him for the finish. The clock flashed 25:08. He’d done it. He beat his best time by nearly a minute. He received a 3rd place trophy in his age division which only made his achievement all the more sweeter.
Afterwards, he told us that he couldn’t have done it without all of us cheering him on and giving him the boost he needed to go faster. It also helped that my momma had gone along the route with outdoor chalk and wrote “Go Peyton” across the road in a couple of places. At one point during our final sprint, I had thought to myself, “you’re pushing him too hard” but I didn’t back down. Seeing how proud he was of himself and hearing him express how thankful he was that we had been there for him made me realize that I had been right to push him.
I know another story about a parent who pushes their child. The parent is Jesus and each one of us are His children. Our lives are very much like this 5K course: challenging, full of uphill climbs and unexpected turns. But just like my family and I were there to coach my son through his run, Jesus is right by our sides screaming words of encouragement and driving us to be our very best. There will be times in each of our lives that we will be exhausted. We may cry out to God, “I just can’t go on.” But He will be there to tell us that we can. He’ll push us beyond what we think we can handle to prove that because of His love for us, He will bring us through to the finish. Our Father wants to see us succeed and He will do His part to see that we do. And although He may not use sidewalk chalk to give us encouraging words, He has given us the Scriptures which are full of “cheers” to help us through life’s most difficult struggles.
For Peyton, having his family by his side made him feel empowered. We can experience that same feeling by “knowing in our knowers” that Jesus is by our sides, screaming “Go (insert your name here)!!!”
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not grow faint.”
(Isaiah 40:31 NLT)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NIV)