Race Runners

“I crossed the finish line!” 

I had never met her before, but I love having a conversation with the hip-high part of the population, so I instinctively turned my head to her. 

She was by my estimation about four years old. She was just slightly pudgy wearing a pair of pink shorts that were riding up a tad in the middle. Her once pristine white shirt had a rainbow and a unicorn on it. Alongside some smudges of fudge icing from the doughnut she’d finished off were drips of red sports drink. She had a partial temporary tattoo on her arm, I think it had been a ribbon but I couldn’t rightly tell. She skipped as she walked and she smiled as she’d made her declaration about crossing the finish line. She thrust her congratulatory card my way.

I smiled in response, 

“I know I saw you!” 

I had been tasked with the job of onsite medical and had firmly planted myself, my baggie full of bandaids and cool washcloths at the start-finish line. I had a bucket of water in preparation for those runners who lose their breakfast or aforementioned hastily consumed doughnuts. I had an umbrella for rain, sanitizer for hands and salve for scrapes. 

My new friend was most proud of her accomplishment post one mile fun run. She had run alongside people of all ages and from all walks of life. A precious middle schooler who just shy of a year ago endured three nine hour back and leg surgeries in less than six months time. She walked that fun run (with a rod through her femur and rods, screws and bolts holding her spine together) with survivors of cancers and those walking in honor of those who had not survived. A former nurse, now a grandmother, pushed her elderly dachshund in a stroller. I had seen them all cross the finish line, I’d watched them all. For the ones I knew the story, and for the ones I did not, I cheered and clapped until my hands were raw and tingling. I’d cried tears of joy and ones that could not be defined, and I had done it for no reason in particular except that they had tried and had finished the race. They had indeed crossed the finish line. 

Second Timothy 4:7 says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I used to genuinely think that verse was about running and I am in no way a runner. I figured that verse in the King’s Book wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until I realized that those words were written to Timothy from his spiritual father Paul at the end of Paul’s life that I understood. These words were likely Paul’s last ones to his son of sorts, and he likened his life, his walk of faith, to a race. He didn’t say he had finished in first place or as best, but he had completed it. He described it as having crossed the finish line.

The four-year-old was certainly no first place winner or fastest participant, but she was a participant full of joy, and when she declared to me what I already knew, it challenged me to run my race of faith with joy and when the time comes for me to cross the finish line to do so knowing the Lord will say,

 “I know I saw you!” 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

1 Timothy 4:7-8

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