We went to the Virginia State Special Olympics yesterday. An annual day of competition — and celebration — for special athletes with special abilities.
Including a loved one in our own family.
He was the youngest there… by far. But he had earned it, winning two first place finishes at his regional meet. He competed in the 50m run, which is really a sprint. On a 95-degree day? At almost 3:30, after waiting almost all day?
A special challenge for a special athlete like him. But by Your grace, Lord, he made it!
He was finally at the starting line. He didn’t hear signal “Go!” He watched as the six others in his heat — no pun intended! — ran toward the finish line. We were cheering for him, urging him on. He finally started running…
… and beaming with delight! He had the track all to himself… and everyone was cheering for him! Family, friends, strangers… all of us. He couldn’t have been happier!
Neither could we.
I saw lots of Portraits in Courage yesterday, Lord. Every single athlete. Every single parent and caregiver.
Each with their own special gifts and abilities. Each with their own special mountains to climb. Even into Life itself. Most parents knew their children would have these special needs. And they chose Life for them anyway.
How will I ever forget the one athlete who ran the 200m, Lord? The one with two crutches supporting legs that seemed barely willing to support his weight. He, too, was alone on the track for most of his race. He, too, had everyone cheering for him.
Rightly so. He was amazing! Clearly his heart was much stronger than his legs. He refused to give up.
He was almost at the finish line, the crowd cheering wildly, when he stopped on the track. Had he run out of steam? No… He just raised his hand to his ear, as if to say: “I can’t hear you!” The crowd cheered louder still!!! And he finished!
What an awesome privilege it was to be present, to honor these courageous athletes! And what an awesome reminder it was of the bigger race we are all called to run. Each of us with special gifts and abilities. Each of us with special mountains to climb.
Each of us needing abundant doses of ENCOURAGEMENT along the way. From those You, Lord, have assembled to cheer us on… to inspire us with courage, spirit and hope!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. . . let us encourage one another — and all the more as [we] see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)