My daughter and I sat in our travel chairs, watching the soccer game. We cheered on her teammates and told them “good work” and “way to go” when they ran over for water breaks.
Our coach cheered them on also, and she pushed them to persevere. At one point she called out, “I don’t want to see any more walking out there!”
We’ve heard her say those same words at soccer practices all season. There’s not much reason to walk around on a soccer field. Pretty much anywhere you need to be, you need to get there fast.
My daughter, though, sat through the whole game, her crutches leaned against her chair. She had hobbled onto the side of the field just to watch and cheer since running (and even walking) was impossible.
She sprained her ankle in gym about a week ago and she’s thankfully on the mend. Today, she finally stepped onto the school bus without any crutches.
These past few days, she has moved slowly and depended on others for constant help. Sweet friends have carried her backpack down the hallway and toted her binders from class to class. Her kind teacher has carried her lunch tray for her. Friends at play rehearsal have given her piggyback rides and actually carried her around as we ran through choreography.
She needed help and others have so generously given that help.
This week as we’ve sat on the soccer sidelines while my daughter heals up, I’ve been thinking about walking, running and hobbling around, and how sometimes the best we can do is a slow, painful crawl while others help us along.
Then there are times when we need to be in top form, running and running and running . God equips us for the running seasons. He trains and disciplines us for the sprint and He calls us out for the occasional marathon.
But that doesn’t mean we de-value the simple, faithful, daily act of walking or the seasons when walking alone takes perseverance.
“Run your own race.” That little bit of encouragement tells us not to give up when we’re on crutches and our best friend is zooming across finish lines.
We also remember what Isaiah said:
but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary,
they will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 CSB).
We will have times that we soar.
We will have times that we run.
We will have times that we walk.
Our pace doesn’t need to match anyone else’s, as long as we’re traveling with the Lord.
This same thought encourages me in another way. Not just to keep going and not give up. Not just to avoid comparing my speed with anyone else’s, choosing instead to be content with my own journey.
But also this–don’t criticize someone else’s pace.
One of my daughter’s teammates took a moment after the game to tell her, “Thanks for the support. I hope you feel better soon.”
He thanked her—even though she had spent the game in a chair on the side of the field.
Sometimes the people around us who are limping along on crutches need us to say, “Keep it up! You can make it!” Sometimes, they need us to carry a binder or bookbag because they cannot do that alone.
When we’re sprinting, it can be easy to judge others who aren’t. But Jesus calls us to grace. Jesus calls us to compassion and encouragement, gentleness and kindness with our brothers and sisters.
Today, I read:
The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit.
9 Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry,
for anger abides in the heart of fools (Eccles. 7:8-9)
God cultivates the patient spirit within us.
He doesn’t say that a patient spirit is better than a “hasty” spirit or an “impatient” spirit. He says it’s better than being proud.
That’s because it’s pride that drives haste and impatience and a rush into anger when others don’t meet our expectations or pass our judgment.
Matthew Poole’s commentary says this verse is partly “to correct the vulgar error of proud men, who think highly of themselves, and trample all others, especially such as are meek and patient, under their feet.”
May that not describe me.
In my haste, eagerness, devotion, or passion, may I never trample over others, especially the meek and patient around me.
May this also be true: May I value the walking seasons instead of envying when others run. May I be a cheerleader for those around me. May I be a help instead of a hurt to those who might be wounded or weary.