“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28 NIV)
This week was his first official race. He raced last week as a trial run before this week’s race. My oldest, Nathan is running Cross Country this year. He has long stride which makes it easier to for him to run but still it’s a grueling sport if you ask me. On Saturday, our family went out to support him.
The race started on the track and continued on a path through the woods. You could go into the woods and watch but we stayed on the bleachers. Once the runners started, it took about twenty minutes for them to reappear out of the woods. The thing about Cross Country is that although there are many other runners, you are racing against yourself. You try, with each race to finish with a better time than the prior race. My son was trying to do better than last week.
Last week’s race was unusual because it had been raining, a lot. The ground was soggy and in some places it felt like they were running through a swamp. The runners were covered in mud as they came through. As my son rounded the last curve on his way to the finish line his coach told him to sprint to the end. And he did. He sprinted and didn’t give up.
The course for this week was much better, no muck to run through. As my son emerged from the woods, I could see he was exhausted. He was moving slowly. But he made it to the track. If he would just keep going he could shave at least a minute off his time. And so we watched. Then I saw my son slow to a walk. What??? Don’t stop. Keep Going. You’re almost there. Come on Nathan you can do it. I couldn’t believe he stopped. He was almost to the end. The finish line was in sight. Why wasn’t he pushing himself?
If you know anything about me, you know I enjoy watching my kids play sports. What I don’t love is watching them be defeated. It killed me to see Nathan just walk. But after a few minutes of rest, he regained his perseverance and finished the race. As he came around the bend I yelled for him to finish strong. And he did. He finished with a sprint and more than a minute faster than last week. That little rest was all he needed to complete the race.
As I stood in the bleachers watching my son give in to his exhaustion, my heart sank. But it reminded me of how God feels when we give up. He continually cheers us on and there are times when we just give up. We say it is too hard. We can’t go on. But God is our strength. When we have nothing left, He is there to carry us through.
Today is Labor Day. It’s a day set aside to give us rest from our work. I pray this day will be a day of refreshment and relaxation. For tomorrow we begin the race again.