His knuckles turned white as they tightened on the wheel; his eyes narrowed into a concentrated gaze while the corners of his mouth twisted up in a confident smirk. Determination was written all over his face. This was serious business.
Right on cue, Hudson began to pedal with all his might. He held the wheel straight and his aim was true.
“Go Hudson! You can do it!” The cheers of his excited family and encouraging onlookers turned his confident smirk into a determined smile. But he wasn’t distracted. He stayed the course, and as his load got heavier he pedaled even harder. He gave it his all until he couldn’t pedal any more.
It was enough. Hudson was victorious! He didn’t just place; he got first place in the Discover Downsville Day Pedal Tractor Pull.
Hudson is my cousin’s son and he’s only four-years old. I could learn a lot from this kid, and the other children who competed this weekend. They were so determined. I can’t even begin to tell you how cute all of those little determined faces were; cute enough to melt a snowman’s heart!
Since the weekend, the pedal tractor pull hasn’t left my mind. I’ve been thinking of it off and on ever since and the Holy Spirit has been using it to stir my heart, to remind me how important it is to live life with everything we’ve got, to stay on track.
It’s been a difficult summer for me physically. I’ve felt sick – a lot. I struggle for strength and energy to live each day and frankly, I have been giving up and giving in too often. I’ve been like the kids who would veer to the left or the right when pedaling, giving up the distance they could have gone if they had gone in a straight line.
When you’re sick, it’s hard to try to live life well when you feel so terrible. We all have days when our body won’t cooperate and making it to the couch to have a movie marathon is considered a victory. However, when those days turn into weeks and months, what do we do?
It’s easy to feel defeated. It’s easy to give up and give in. It’s easy to stop setting the alarm and stop trying to get up and get things accomplished. It’s easy to expect tomorrow to be just as bad as today. I know; I’ve been there. I am there!
But friends, this attitude is wrong. I’m telling you and I’m telling myself, we were made for so much more. I’m reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The Message translation reads:
You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
For some, life will become too hard and we’ll give up, turning away from God. For others, no matter what life throws at us, no matter what obstacles we need to overcome, we’ll keep running the race set before us – and we’ll win! I want you to be in the second group.
I want you to win because winning means spending an eternity with God in Heaven. Winning means that all the trials we’ve overcome in life will be nothing but a memory as we live in eternal victory.
So let’s run hard for the finish line. Let’s give it everything we’ve got. Let’s not allow ourselves to give up or give in. Let’s keep setting our alarms to get up for work or church or whatever we have planned for the day. It’s okay if we have to go back to bed, but don’t give up trying. Let’s go to bed each night with the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.
Let’s try, every day. Let’s check our attitudes and our expectations and live with hope and determination. Let’s enjoy the ride and find things to celebrate along the way.
Let’s ask God to help us get up when we fall so we can continue running the race. I don’t care if I have to drag myself across the finish line by my fingernails; I’m determined to make it and I want you next to me in the winner’s circle!
What do you say; are you ready to finish this race? It’s a serious business, but if you’re determined, go ahead and break out your confident smirk because with God’s help, we’ve got this race in the bag!
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Romans 12:12 (NIV)