I don’t know if your family ever had a cross country athlete, but our middle daughter Bethany was one in high school. She didn’t excel at the long-distance event, but decided running would help keep her in shape for her favorite sports of basketball, and track and field.
What I initially didn’t realize was that her choice was going to require my husband and me to be in shape too.
Watching a cross country meet is far different than viewing other sports because the action is not confined to a field or court. Instead, participants run 5K (3.1 miles) up and down hills on a twisty, dirt or grass trail.
As parents we had three chances to see our daughter running. First, we stood at the starting line and when the gun went off, we loudly hollered her name. Then we jogged to a spot midway along the race route where we caught a glimpse of her as we shouted encouragement that she, indeed, could complete the race. Finally, we dashed back to the finish line–which may or may not have been the same as the starting line–and wildly cheered when Bethany crossed it.
Then we all went home and took showers.
Why did we do it? For the 60 seconds or less we actually saw her run? No way. Because it was so enjoyable to watch her face turn beet red and her uniform get soaked with perspiration? Hardly.
We did it because we deeply love her and wanted to convey that she was worth the sacrifice it took to root for her. Whether Bethany’s time was fast or slow didn’t matter to us–she had persevered and we always celebrated her.
And that’s why I think God is like a cross country mom or dad– He celebrates us on life’s journey.
As author Max Lucado puts it:
“God is for you. Turn to the sidelines; that’s God cheering your run.
Look past the finish line; that’s God applauding your steps.
Listen for him in the bleachers, shouting your name.
Too tired to continue? He’ll carry you.
Too discouraged to fight? He’s picking you up.
God is for you.”
Whatever you are facing on the race set before you–ups and downs of a serious illness, twists and turns of a rocky marriage, rough terrain of financial struggles–God is right there with you; not just cheering you on like a cross country parent, but also equipping you by the power of His Spirit to have what you need to stay the course.
As Lucado concludes: “God is for you. Knowing that, who is against you? Can death harm you now? Can disease rob your life? Can your purpose be taken or your value diminished? No. Though hell may set itself against you, no one can defeat you. You are protected. God is for you.”
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son,
but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:31b-32
Be sure to open in your browser to hear the song “God is for Us” by CityAlight.