12 May Lessons on the Track
Have you ever noticed how much more enjoyable exercise is with a friend? On Sunday evening, I had a dear friend invite me to go for a walk at a local school track. As we went ‘round and ‘round the track, we laughed and shared about our week, and before we knew it, we had walked for an hour. Last night, I went to the track on my own to enjoy the beautiful spring evening, and as I was walking, three dads and their three young sons (about eight years old) showed up. It appeared the boys were preparing for some upcoming race. The dads gave the instructions of how many times to run around the track, and off the boys went while the dads chatted on the sidelines.
It wasn’t too long before one boy started cramping up and had to stop and walk, though his friends kept running. I could hear his dad telling him to run or at least walk faster and take longer strides. The boy’s face indicated defeat as he looked around the track, watching his friends run. Then the dad shouted out another set of instructions: “Run the straights and walk the curves!” The boy must have thought that sounded like a great tip, because he repeated it to his friends as they went running past him. The dads continued to stay on the sidelines, occasionally hollering instructions. I confess, I so wanted to say, Get off the sidelines and come alongside your son! He needs to see your instructions in action, and he could use the encouragement of you running beside him!
After one of the other boys completed his designated laps, I watched him get back on the track and run up to his little struggling friend, offering words of encouragement and running alongside him until he finished. Way to go, buddy, I thought as I watched the boy’s look of defeat disappear and his pace pick up a bit.
As I was on my last lap, I saw another dad with his four-year-old son. The little fella was down in a runner’s stance, counting off, “On your mark, get set, go!” Off he went running as fast as he could with his dad right there beside him. When the dad began to get a stride or two ahead of him, I watched the little runner reach out and grab the shirt tail of his dad. That’s it, I thought to myself. That’s what we want—our dad right there with us, never out of reach.
I could not stop thinking about these two scenes and how they taught me about running the race of life God has set before us. We are not meant to run it alone. We need dads and shepherds who don’t just stand on the sidelines, giving us instructions every time we come around. We need shepherds who show us how to run, how to keep pace and endure. We need to see it!
For those of us in a leadership role of any kind, we need to be shepherds who run the race with our sheep—cheering and encouraging them along the way, as well as instructing them as we run and walk together. And we all need friends to do the same thing for us. We were not meant to run this race alone. And we all (sheep and shepherds) need to keep in step with our great Shepherd, who is always with us. We can reach out our hand to grab his shirt tail, because we want and need to be right in step with Him.
I am so thankful that God would use a simple walk to teach me how to run! How about you? How is your walk (or run) going? Are you trying to do it on your own and feeling a bit defeated? Do you know of a friend or family member who needs you to come walk alongside them? Parents and leaders, are you on the track or just hanging out on the sidelines giving out instructions when your sheep pass by you? Are you staying in step with your Father? May we love well and never forget that, on God’s track, no one walks alone!
Written by Karen Hawkins, pastoral leader of Community Care