Blessed and Running On
This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account; it is presented so that you also can believe. John 19:35 (NIV)
No one wanted the day to end. As the cleaning crew began dismantling tables, people were in their way. Some stood huddled together, others ignored that the vendors were packing up their displays and they needed to make room for them. I am not sure if help was solicited from the young people standing on the deflated romp a room, but they appeared to be having a little to much fun jumping up and down on the deflated gym, which needed to be rolled up and removed. I could see that only the clean up crew wanted to go home, no one else appeared to be in a rush to get moving.
A calming atmosphere of joy, peace, and love hung in the air like the distinct aroma of something wonderful baking in the oven. As I walked toward my husband it was evident that this Saturday had provided more than we could have anticipated.
My husband, Richard had been invited as a “donor parent” and clergy member to participate as one of the guest speakers to address the issue of teen violence and shed some insight about handling grief. All this was in memory of Baron "Deuce" Braswell who had been killed in Fredericksburg, VA. Richard did such a fine job, not reiterating the graphic details regarding our son’s death nor the honoree, but instead reminded the listeners that the enemy hadn’t stolen our joy and celebration was evident that we will continue as a family and community to run this race. And at the close of the day’s festivities there stood my husband on the dusty high- school race track beaming with his hands extended towards me. I squeezed my husband’s neck and couldn’t help but remark, “Hey look at you, and you’ve received a medal also!” He chuckled and smiled broadly and acknowledged that he too had been a runner in the race.
I gave a hearty “Amen” because indeed he had. As I reflect on the symbolism of the dusty tracks and roads, I understand that all of us have stood on the dusty tracks of life at some point in this life's journey. Sometimes the run is smooth but, often times it’s a hard stretch of a run that makes you wonder when it will become smooth again. But we continue to persevere!I thank God for the organizer’s and parent’s foresight and all those that rallied around them grieving the loss of this excellent young man and commemorating his life of sportsmanship and scholastic achievment with an invitational community event. Enthusiastic runners young, middle aged and some not so middle aged enjoyed the day.
This multifaceted day provided fun, fellowship and an opportunity for community leaders, administrators, parents and students to announce to the world that the epidemic of teen violence must be addressed. I marveled at the ingenuity to bring recognition of such a dismal occurrence through such a worthy event. Yet I am pushed to appreciate the day for more -- it was a day filled with optimism that evil had not conquered good in spite of the negative reports. I’d like to think the community said with their resounding appearance that we do have victory, we are winners. I recall observing that many of the youngest runners from the seasoned sprinters were proudly wearing their LifeNet bracelets and their Olympic style medals. The medals each had a pair of gold running shoes handsomely displayed on a red, white and blue ribbon.
It was apparent that the recipients of the medals were pleased at their accomplishment of running the 5 k race. My husband was equally proud to place in the runners hand a plaque signaling a job well done! Earlier that day my husband stopped to chat with a young runner who walked with his father. My husband inquired how the young man had done in the race. The young man appeared to be in his early teens, and half heartedly smiled and acknowledged that the race had gone fairly well for him. My husband looked at the father and then said to the son smiling, “You know the race is not given to the swift or strong, but those that hang in there until the end.” “Tell him father!” For a quick moment, the father must have thought this guy is right! He then looked at Ricky in his eyes and said, “Yes that’s right!” The young man’s shoulders for a moment appeared slumped, but I could see the life and energy return to this young runner and his posture was erect.
I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I like you, keep working towards that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us to. Phil 3:12-14, surely God’s word does that for us -- it rebuilds our brokenness and disappointment. That day when we reflected on the tragic loss of life for the teens or other loved ones, our hearts did ache because of the travesty of the senselessness of the loss of life. But for a moment when I closed my eyes and lifted a prayer of thanksgiving I felt the warm sun on my face, opened my eyes and witnessed the runners, the cheering bystanders, and heard the background music, children running, playing and laughing in the inflated gym, saw the vendors dispensing health information–without a doubt I knew we all were winners on that day.
The air was filled with exuberance, there was a celebration in our midst and it was contagious. Our hearts were alive with hope and promise and our spirits were soaring for new days ahead. Let’s thank God together friends, for his infinite wisdom and loving kindness in sustaining us with the resolve to endure and keep it moving. Some can give a good report and yet others are a little worn from their experience- nonetheless we can be eyewitness for each other that love, Holy love, enduring love has sustained us for this race! God had once again poured his love on us, given us medallions of love and kinship. We’re recipients of grace, and I knew I too stood on the dusty track and was in position to run again!
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