Good Friday morning ...
It's spring time in northeast Florida. The dogwoods have bloomed, as well as the azaleas; the crepe myrtles are budding out, the live oaks have sprouted new leaves and the camelias are way past their prime, having a long four-month blooming period. The grass is green, everything is lush and moist and soaking up the sunshine.
And it's track season.
It's been fifty-six years ago ... but somehow I can see it in my mind as if it were yesterday. The occasion: the end-of-season Westchester County (NY) Invitational Track Meet. The scene: the Bronxville High School track. The event: the one mile relay.
I was in the blocks ... ready to sprint the first 440 yards for my team, Concordia Prep. I had already won the pole vault event and was hyped to the extreme to get through this relay and then finish my participation with the long jump competition. At the gun, I shot out of the blocks onto the cinder track and gained an immediate lead. I was flying! I was not to be beaten! It was my senior year, my very last track competition and I was exhilerated. This was MY race ... and I intended to win!
And then it happened! I was rounding the final turn, with relay partner Gary Gross in view ahead, my concentration on a clean pass of the baton, my chest heaving, my lungs begging for relief, my legs weakening ... when my left foot struck the wooden shaft of a misplaced starter flag. Losing my balance, I fell to the track, my hands breaking the fall against the sharp gray cinders. Scrambling across the finish line, I was able to finish on my hands and knees but in sixth place, bloody from the fall, deflated by the loss and broken by defeat.
A season of training, sacrifice and planning for this special moment ... and it ends with me crawling across the finish line with bloody hands and knees and a severly wounded pride.
The letdown. The frustration. The disappointment. But there was nothing I could do! There was nothing I could change! It was over!
Perhaps you have found yourself looking back over some event in your past when you were deeply disappointed, frustrated, let down. Maybe you had put a lot of time into a special relationship ... only to see it come crashing down. Or perhaps there was a job at which you had worked so very hard ... only to see someone else get the nod. Or maybe you had expended a lot of effort to change some bad behavior, keeping yourself under control by sheer willpower and a scrupulous conscience ... only to fail after all the effort.
Such painful remembrances can be paralyzing. So how do you get over the hurdles of past hurts? How do you move on? How do you escape your funk?
First, don't let past failures cause you to quit. Dream again. Set new, revised goals. And commit them to the One who empowers your life and makes all things possible. Second, get on with it, focusing on today and growing excited about the yet undiscovered future. Today will end; tomorrow will come. No matter what happened yesterday or last year, you have a future, and it is filled with hope and promise.
St. Paul gives us some good advice for handling personal failure: "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." After getting the attitude straight, then he could "press on toward the goal to win the prize" for which God had called him.
No matter what trips us up in our efforts to live for the Lord (and there are numerous things), we always need to get up and get on with it. God is good; He is kind; and He is faithful. He will see us through.
So press on. Fight the good fight. Be faithful until the end.
Have a great spring weekend in the Lord …