Today was Zack's first school track meet. We knew it was happening today, but we only heard (in true Zack fashion...) what his chosen event would be. Zack chose to run the 800m. I don't pretend to be a track expert, but anyone I asked said that the 800m has got to be the toughest track event going. It's too long to be a sprint and too short to be a real distance run. That reality is only compounded by the fact that he's only 10. We got there early and watched a few races before Zack went. Apparently it's not cool to walk in the 100m, but walking is an acceptable option in the 800m. I determined that I was not about to stand outside on a blustery day with no jacket to watch Zack walk around the course so I found him just before they called his group, pulled him aside, looked him in the eye and said "Do your best Zack - Keep running and DON'T WALK!" We watched him as he went by us the first time. He was running strong and at a good pace, somewhere in the middle of the pack and was holding his own. He started to fade in the second half and his little legs were getting tired so we called out for him to "take bigger steps" and he began to do it. His pace improved and he began to move up in the pack. By the time he was done, he finished in about 13th place. Zack was very happy and we were quite proud of him. That last 1/2 lap around the track looked pretty tiring, but they were so focused on finishing that there were no losers, just finishers!
The whole event reminded of Hebrews 12. There's a picture of people running while others are cheering them on and watching them go. Paul writes and says "let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us." Running isn't always easy. Sometimes we get tired and need to adjust our pace. Sometimes we need to take bigger steps. Whatever the race throws at us, the thing that matters most is that we keep moving our feet and to quote Paul again "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." There's a prize at the end of the race that makes it worth the pain.