She bent over her knee to check her shoelace one more time. It was a habit of hers which had become a pre-race ritual that eased her nerves and helped pass the time. This race was important and she needed to do her best. It wasn't just to satisfy herself of her ability to run and how fast, it was also for her coach, who had put so much time into her because he believed in her.
The time had passed by so quickly. How long had it been now? Six years? In some ways it seemed a lifetime, but in other ways just a moment in time. So much had happened to bring her to this very moment, to participate in a race that means so much to her and to her family.
Over to the left in the audience her proud parents sat watching. Mum had a hand over her heart, and her dad had that faint familiar smile playing around his lips. They had told her they didn't mind where she finished, but just that she could do it – run a race when there was a time it was thought that would never happen again.
She thought about that phrase that often played over and over in her mind, ‘Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize' and smiled. I've already won the prize. I won it when I could get back on my feet. I won it when I was able to take those first steps. I won it when I walked down the end of the street without the aid of a walking stick and back again. Where I finish today doesn't matter because I've already won the biggest prize of all. And that is the love of my Lord Jesus Christ and Saviour, and his healing hand.
Over to the right stood her coach, touching the ends of his fingers to his thumb on his left hand, from one end to the other and back again. This was an unconscious movement of his that was comfortingly familiar, and she knew it evidence that his thoughts were elsewhere, and she was pretty sure that at this moment, he was in silent prayer - that she would finish this race.
The call came and the other athletes moved into position either side of her and she too settled into her position. She flexed her ankle and it felt good to sense the movement there. She was far more aware of the different parts of her body these days and how each felt when she moved or when something touched her. The start sequence began and the shot was fired. The race had begun.
And as she moved forward towards her goal of the 400 metre finish line she knew without a doubt that she was going to finish the race. All the training and strict discipline that had been put in place since her accident had brought her to this very point and no matter where she placed she knew that she had won.
1 Cor 9:24-25 (TEB) ... In a race all the runners take part in it, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline; he does so in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever.
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