“I don’t know if I can do that,” Warren tentatively surmised. “You know I’ve been ill for the past six weeks and what you’re asking would require a lot of stamina that I just don’t have right now.”
“Come on, Warren, if the team ever needed you, it’s now,” Jim pleaded.
“But I’m not really well yet, Jim, and I’m totally out of shape. I haven’t been able to practice for almost two months.”
“Warren, you know how much this track meet means to all of us. It’s our only possible chance to make it to the Jr. Olympics. Without you, we have no chance at all. You’re one of our best runners.”
Sliding his hand through his hair, Warren slowly shook his bowed head. “I don’t know, Jim. I’m still weak.” Pausing to collect his thoughts, “Well,” he sighed, “I guess I could give it a try.” I know how much this means to you and the team but you need to know, I’m totally out of my comfort zone with this.”
Jim, energized by Warren’s reply, whooped out an exuberant “YES! Thanks, Warren, thanks so much.” Waving goodbye, “Thanks again, this is so cool!”
I must be out of my mind. How can I possibly run this race. I’m so debilitated and tire so easily. God, what have I gotten myself into?
The day of the race arrived all too quickly. Still without practice, Warren suited up and prepared to take his place in the lineup. His mind drifted to how much perseverance this race was going to require.
Bang went the starter gun and off dashed the racers. At first Warren kept up with the pack but after the first lap, he realized he was in way over his head. His breathing became labored and his limbs felt weak. The toll of his illness was grinding him to slow motion. One by one the other racer’s passed him. One foot in front of the other…on dragged the race. His legs felt like rubber. Wobbly and unsure of his steps, Warren slowed to a walk. He observed as the other runners swiftly dashed by lap after lap and were now coming in for the finish. By contrast, he knew he still had several laps to go.
How will I ever finish this? I can barely drag myself in walking mode. I can’t do this. Everything in me wants to quit. But I can’t just give up. Dad has always taught me to persevere through difficulties in life. What was it he said? Something about “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance and perseverance proven character and proven character, hope. And hope does not disappoint....” Ohhh, I am so miserable. What possible hope could be in all my perseverance in this tribulation race? Race? More like a laborious, painful walk.
Finally, with the finish line in sight, completely exhausted and almost crawling, Warren dragged himself across the line and collapsed on the track. His father picked him up and carried him to the bleachers.
Nearly passed out and gasping for air, Warren’s exasperation feathered. “Dad, what was that all about?” Through agonizing sobs of dejection, “You’ve always taught me that perseverance is so important. You’ve said that all things work together for good. What possible good will come out of this horrible exhibition? I am completely drained and fatigued and I’ve ruined any chance for our team to qualify for Jr. Olympics. Why in the world is perseverance so important?
Before his father could answer, the announcer boomed, “Ladies and gentlemen, we now have the final scores for the men’s track event. As you have all observed, this has been an unusual event today. Warren, although you earned only one point for your team for finishing the race, it is the one point that has made the difference between first and second place for your team. Congratulations on a great win! And because of your team’s win, you will all be going to the Jr. Olympics and Warren, you’re one point qualifies you for a personal try at the Jr. Olympics as well. Congratulations, all!”
Dumbfounded, hardly able to grasp this unexpected turn of events, through tears Warren bowed his head and gave thanks. Just enough time before his teammates scooped him up and carried him onto the track in a victory march.
(This is a true story.)
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