article by Paul Lipe
I REMEMBER that beautiful spring day in 2012, when we sat in the stands at the SMU Lowdon Track and Field Complex in Dallas, Texas. We were there, not to watch an SMU Mustang event, but to witness the first-ever track meet that our grandson, Jon Paul Lipe, participated in as a member of the track team from Providence Christian School of Dallas. This was big-time for our 10-year old fourth grader – running against students from all over Dallas, on the university track with all its electronic gadgets, and in front of a large number of spectators who were watching his every move (or so it seemed to him). Jon Paul was as tight as a newly-tuned banjo!
His anxiety is understandable, when one considers his roots. This young lad’s dad grew up in the small town of Delhi, and his mother hails from a tiny hamlet which is located north of Rayville and has far fewer inhabitants than does Delhi. This Dallas event was indeed “tall cotton” for this young fellow! “Big D” never seemed bigger!
The first race in which he competed was a preliminary for the 100 meter dash. A slow exit from the starting blocks resulted in a fourth-place finish in his heat. But finishing fourth was not the worst part – Jon Paul was so tense that he was close to hyperventilating. Anxiously, we observed as his coach walked with him in the infield, holding JP’s hands high above his head to facilitate his struggle to breathe. We were afraid that he would not be able to participate in the rest of the meet, but then came some encouraging news. Jon Paul had run in a fast heat, and the first four places in that heat qualified for the finals. This did much in helping our grandson gain some composure and the confidence that he could measure up against this Dallas competition.
Later in the day, when the finals in the 100 meter were run, Jon Paul finished third but only a step behind the winner. However, in the 200 meter dash, which was JP’s best event, he smoked the field to claim the first place ribbon. He had fought and overcome his fear, and the results were very gratifying – both to him and to his proud parents and grandparents.
There is an important lesson to be learned from this event in the life of my grandson. When confronted by an opportunity or challenge that appears so daunting, we can benefit if we give our best effort and tackle the problem head-on. But when we run away from the challenge, or when we give only a half-hearted effort, it is likely to be costly and unproductive.
This truth is plainly seen in the life of Moses. He had been amply equipped and prepared for the role of leading the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage, but when God called him to undertake that task, Moses was reluctant to “run the race.” He gave excuses and did all he could to escape from this challenge. His arguments to God were that he was not the man for such a great responsibility, that the people would not listen to him or believe him, and that he was not eloquent enough to be effective in such a major mission. Moses resisted, because he felt inadequate and he was afraid of failure.
But the Lord persisted in His recruitment of Moses, and Moses finally relented and agreed to take the job. The results are an important part of the history of the world, because Moses is recognized as one of the most important figures in the story of mankind. The Ten Commandments which God gave to this servant have been so significant in shaping Western civilization and culture. One is filled with gratitude when he considers what our lives might have been like had Moses refused “to run the race set before him.” But Moses did run, and we are the benefactors of his effort.
Jon Paul continues to run track and to participate in other sports, and he is maturing in the process. How different things might have been had he succumbed to his anxiety that day at the Lowdon Track and Field Complex. Thankfully, he faced his fears and met the challenge, and he is a better person for it all.
So when hurdles seem to block our paths, causing us fear and apprehension, may we find strength and encouragement from our Lord, just as JP and Moses did, and may we all run our races by faithfully giving our best effort – all the way to the finish line.