Finishing Strong

"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."  Hebrew 12: 1 - 2

There is a famous line that goes "back in my day..." followed by some outlandish statement such as walking five miles up hill both ways to school. I would laugh at how often my grandmother would use this statement.

Now that I am older and listening to my students' and my own children's stories, I also find myself frequently chiming in with similar statements such as, "Well, back in my day, I used to make .50 an hour for babysitting" or "Back in my day, I had to find a pay phone to call my parents to let them know I was running late" or "Back in my day, our first video camera was about the size and weight of a small safe!"

During one of our school's recent track meets,  I was reminiscing about the old video camera days as I was watching how easy it is now for parents to video their children from their phones.  As I was talking to a group of parents about my original gi-normous video camera, I remembered a treasured memory that this huge piece of equipment captured for a grieving family.

We were at the Lapeer Track Meet, which "back in my day" usually was the first official track meet of the season and often the coldest!  As we were all huddled together, trying to stay warm, I would occasionally brave the elements to videotape my son's events.

One event in which he was a participant was the 4x4 relay team for the 200 meter, and that year, they just happened to be a very fast team.  As the gun shot, my finger clicked the record button and both the team and I started our mission... theirs to run the race and mine to record it. 

It was such an exciting race, but sitting next to us was the most adorable grandfather, a former runner and a man who loved to watch his grandson, Matthew, run.  Maybe the cold helped to motivate the fans, because the cheers of the crowd seemed exceptionally loud that day, but somehow, the sweet grandpa's voice bellowed above the rest. Matthew was the anchor of this relay team, and as the baton was placed in Matthew's hand, he took off like a bullet! However, the entire time that Matthew flew around that track, his grandfather was going crazy with cheers of encouragement, such as: "Come on Matthew" "You can do it" "Keep your eyes forward" "Hang in there Matthew"  "Keep going" "Stay strong".  The crowd's cheers erupted as Matthew was the first to cross the finish line, but no one was more excited than Matthew's grandfather.

When we returned to school that following Monday, we were shocked to learn that God had suddenly taken Matthew's grandfather to Heaven the day after the track meet. We rejoiced in knowing that Matthew's grandfather was with Jesus, but our hearts ached for this grieving family.

Days later, as I was preparing the video camera for the next track meet, I replayed the footage from the following Saturday and all of a sudden realized what a treasured memory God had allowed to me to capture for Matthew.  As I was watching Matthew re-run his last race, there was his grandpa's booming voice and all of the encouragement he was directing at Matthew.  Immediately, I knew that I had to give a copy of this tape to Matthew so that he could always have an audible copy of his grandfather's encouragement.

Just as Matthew had the gift of his grandfather's encouragement, we too receive daily gifts of encouragement from our Heavenly Father.  When situations seem challenging and/or overwhelming, God tells us to "cast our burdens on Him."  When things seem confusing and unclear, God tells us to "trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding."  And when we are frightened or scared, God tells us that we "can do all things through Him who gives us the strength."  Each day, as we run the race of life, our Heavenly Father is sitting in the stands cheering us on, telling us "Keep going." "Stay strong." "You can do this with My help." The Lord wants us to stay strong and run the race that He has laid out for each of us and glorify Him in the process.

This has been a fantastic school year, filled with an abundance of blessings, but we still have a few weeks left in this race, so finish strong!

Have a wonderful last few weeks, running the race that He has marked out for you.

In His love,
Mrs. Palka

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