Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: CLUMSY (04/11/19)
TITLE: The Finish Line
By Robin Newberger
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The athletes readied themselves in a runner's stance, anticipating the sound of the starting gun. The sharp pop reverberated through the air and the row of athletes sprinted out of their frozen poses, the sound of their sneakered feet pounding against the track. It echoed across the field and up into the bleachers where my husband and I were sitting. We watched them in reverential silence.
The young man in the lead was tall and muscular and unnaturally fast. His larger-than-life presence swallowed up the expansive track. Michael commanded attention. His voice was as verbose as his hulking presence. As he sprinted toward the 100-meter mark, he called out exuberantly to anyone who was listening.
"Feelin' strong! I'm feelin' strong!"
Michael barreled toward the finish line, a blur. A gentle giant, he was a powerhouse.
I turned my attention to Sam, awkwardly progressing down the track. A small man, wiry and ungainly, he ran, clearly unencumbered by his obvious disability. His left shoulder sat noticeably lower than his right, dramatically hunching the right side of his back. Arms tucked against his body in an effort to abate the involuntary jerking of his hands, Sam pressed on. His slight frame looked as though it could faint from the effort. My heart would have broken at the sight of him had it not been so inspired.
Mary, a little girl with Down Syndrome, slowly jogged down her lane, head down, eyes to the rust-colored track, tightly hugging a green five-foot long stuffed snake. She ran for the joy of it. Mary gave it her all. Crossing the finish line, she rejoiced at her victory, the green stuffed snake bobbing behind her like a tail. Her face beamed with pride, revealing her irrepressible spirit.
Markie didn’t run. Each step awkward because of his severe disability, he limped down the track, slowly but steadily, one leg at a time. First his left, then his right, his gait stiff and wooden. Flanked on each side by friends, his arms were supported as he journeyed on, unfazed by his slow pace. Markie's excitement was punctuated with sudden verbal utterances, loud and unintelligible. He was happy, and that much was obvious. He was pitiable and at the same time altogether captivating.
Before my eyes, they transformed into living parables. I thought about this journey of the Christian life, following hard after Christ, as it presses back against me with its many adversities. The message to my heart was clear. They persevered to the end despite everything that was against them. They did it all with joy, grit and determination canceling out anything clumsy or awkward about them.
Some days, like Michael, I feel strong in my faith, like nothing can get me down. I run like the wind. Other days, I can identify more with Sam, laboring greatly under the weight of life’s challenges. The Mary in me holds tightly to Jesus like she did her beloved friend. But most days, I am most like Markie, clumsy and unable to take a single step without support.
Not burdened with a physical impairment, I contend daily with the disability of sin. The Enemy set me up to lose, to never cross the finish line into eternal life, but because of His victory at the Cross, His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus stands at the end of the race holding up the flag of redemption and forgiveness. Like these runners, there is no giving up. I will keep going in this marathon of faith until I reach the finish line into His waiting arms.
...And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith... Heb 12:1b-2a NIV
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