Sarah and David during the Half Ironman
My husband David and daughter Sarah participated in a Half Ironman in Augusta, Georgia, this past weekend. We celebrated their accomplishment, especially in light of what happened a few weeks earlier.
David and Sarah had trained for months to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run half a marathon, 13.1 miles. Those distances are half of what they plan to do in a full Ironman on November 1. They were excited to complete the Half Ironman together . . . until the email arrived announcing the race committee’s plan for staggered starts. David was given a start time an hour and a half ahead of Sarah.
Sarah’s voice quivered as she told me, “I was really looking forward to doing this with Dad. I don’t want to have to go through this for the first time all by myself. I don’t know what I’m doing. I was counting on Dad to pace me and coach me, and I know he would have helped me get through it, just by being there alongside me.”
I expressed Sarah’s concerns to David.
“She can do it,” he said, voicing his confidence in his daughter.
He thought about it for a day and came back to me and said, “When I finish my swim, I’ll wait for her. We’ll go through the bike and the run together.”
My heart swelled with admiration for my husband. He was coming alongside his daughter, not just in the triathlon race, but in life. He has done that repeatedly for all four of our children.
It is such a picture of Jesus.
His presence keeps us going.
The Lord promises, “My presence shall do with you” (Exodus 33:14, NASB), that He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and that He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He tells us to be strong and courageous, and then He reveals why and how we can be: “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NASB). The presence of Jesus energizes us to run the race set before us. He runs the race with us
The presence of her daddy kept Sarah running. It should be the same for us; so, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
He shows us the way.
To date, David has completed 3 full Ironman competitions, 3 Half Ironmans, and 4 marathons. He knows how to train and participate in those races. He is wise and experienced. That’s why Sarah wanted him with her on race day. He didn’t disappoint her. He coached Sarah through all the elements of the race, and Sarah listened to him.
So, too, our Lord tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8, NASB). The Lord does not expect us to know (the way), He expects us to go (with Him). In fact, that’s what the race is all about, running and completing it with Him. He says, “I am the way” (John 14:6), and “This is eternal [and abundant] life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3, NASB).
He empowers us to finish the race.
David and Sarah crossed the finish line, arms raised in triumph, amid applause as the announcer broadcast to the watching crowd that a father and daughter were finishing the race together. It was a moment neither one of them would ever forget.
David sacrificed to get Sarah there. He allowed an extra hour and half to be added to his final time. He slowed his pace to match his daughter’s. He coached her through. Because he loves her. He had joy running the race with her. He treasured crossing the finish line with her.
Jesus did the same. He sacrificed Himself for us: “although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8, NASB). We are told Jesus looked ahead to what His death would accomplish—the ability for us to be with Him forever—and that gave Him joy (Hebrews 12:2). He knew we would be empowered through His sacrifice to finish the race.
So then, let us aim to say as Paul does, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, NIV). Jesus is running with us toward the finish line, where we will be with Him forever.
Question: How is Jesus seeing you through your race? Comment at the link below.