by Heather Bock
Long distance running can be brutal. Well, not compared to boxing or water polo, but for a fairly benign looking sport, I’ve seen my own teammate run through a stress fracture so intense, her bone snapped 100 meters from the finish line. Another of my teammates described a girl from a rival team intentionally elbowing my teammate off course into a ditch. I’ve seen track runners come back from races with blood dripping down their legs from being spiked by runners’ shoes around them. I even saw an article about a Stanford runner who fell and was run over by several runners, taking a spike to the forehead, finishing her race with blood running (no pun intended) down her face.
It’s not as dangerous as cycling, which puts me on edge just watching it, but if you are running in the tight pack of a highly competitive race, you seriously run the risk (really, I’m not intending these puns!) of getting clipped by another runner’s foot, causing you to fall headlong on the unforgiving track, possibly bringing others down with you and/or being trampled.
This is exactly what happened in one of the 5000 meter heats at the Olympics in Rio yesterday. Nikki Hamblin from New Zealand was accidentally tripped by a woman in front of her, causing her to fall hard. Her fall then caused Abbey D’Agostino from the United States to crash. In my experience of competitive running, when someone falls, most often he or she attempts to get up and finish the race. If two fall, both usually try to continue. However, I’ve rarely, if ever, seen one of the fallen take the time to help the other one. In the 5000 meters, both fallen runners did this.
In a move reminiscent of the Pixar Cars final Piston Cup race, after Nikki Hamblin from New Zealand fell, Abbey D’Agostino tried to help her to her feet. When Abbey realized she was more badly injured than she thought and fell again, Nikki then took a turn in helping Abbey back into the race, both of them finishing in the end.
Last week I made the point that we should keep our eyes on our own race, that we shouldn’t be distracted by other people’s races. I still believe this is true when we are comparing ourselves to others in a way that discourages or brings on pride. In addition, I believe we are to do our best in what we do, as Colossians 3:23 shows: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”
However, there are times when we need to turn our eyes away from our own personal bests to help even our competitors (or enemies), and I’m not just talking about running. Jesus says, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35).
This, of course, is going to look different for different people, and only you and God will know what you need to do to lay down your personal race for others. For me, I have had a few bigger sacrifices to make like slowing down my dream of a writing career to continue homeschooling my kids. However, it’s been more about taking up my cross daily (Luke 9:23), like doing a job normally relegated to my husband (admittedly, I don’t do that much), taking time from my concentration and work (like right now) and give my full attention to my kids when they need it, and taking my son to his soccer game and cheering for him instead of getting distracted by emails/texts on my phone.
I know I need to take care of myself and get my oxygen mask on first before I can put the mask on the person next to me (to use the airplane metaphor), but Jesus does call us many times to choose others over ourselves.
Did you hear the ending of the two Olympic distance runners? Both of them contested the race results, and although neither might have made it to the finals on their own, both are being allowed to race in the finals on Friday if they are physically fit enough to do so. Sometimes sacrificing your own interests for others isn’t rewarded until after this life, but sometimes it’s rewarded a little sooner.
How about you? How have you stopped your race in order to help another person?
$25 Certificate Giveaway
The winner of the $25 gift certificate to Family Christian Stores is Sarah Kaiser! Congratulations, Sarah! I will contact you soon. Thank you to everyone else who participated in the drawing. Keep your eyes open for future drawings. I have two more coming up in the near future.