And He Will Lift You Up
Derek Redmond. You probably don’t know the name, but you may recall the story. It was the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He was a gifted sprinter, having once held the 400 meter world record. Derek had been forced to withdraw from his event at the prior Olympic Games in Seoul because of injury. So after five surgeries, ’92 was his time, his moment, and his stage. The stadium was packed with 65,000 fans. The starter’s pistol fired and Derek broke from the pack quickly seizing the lead. Down the backstretch with the last curve ahead, he heard a pop and felt a sharp pain in his right hamstring; the muscle was torn. He pulled up lame, but Derek was not finished. His injured leg quivering, Redmond began hopping on the other leg, then slowed and fell to the track in agony. He rose once again, and one heartbreaking step at a time, each one a little slower and more painful than the one before, he hobbled on. By that time, the other runners had finished the race, and all eyes were on Derek, his face twisted in agony and tears, alone on the track.
A man suddenly broke through the crowd running toward Derek… two security people chasing after him. "That's my son out there," he yelled back, "and I'm going to help him."
He reached his child. Derek wrapped arms around his father and sobbed in anguish. "I'm here, son," Jim said softly, hugging his boy, "we'll finish together."
The father put his strong arm around his boy’s waist; the son held fast to his father’s shoulder. Along the track the two men struggled, hobbled toward the finish line. The father pushed away security guards again and again. Slowly, the stunned crowd rose to their feet and began to roar. Before reaching the finish line, Jim Redmond released his grip on his son, so Derek could cross the finish line by himself. Overcoming his worst moment, and with his father’s loving help, Derek’s race was completed.
What can we learn from this event of some twenty years past? Like the apostle used the imagery of a runner to illustrate our race for a crown, we take lessons from Derek’s struggle.
God our Father cares for us! Know this: the love demonstrated by Derek’s father for his son is but a token of our heavenly Father’s love and caring for us! If an earthly father does good to his son, how much more will God, our spiritual Father, supply for His children’s needs?
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us,
that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1
“For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matt 6:8
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened
to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who
knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread,
will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then,
being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father
who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matt 7:7-11
Finish the race…no matter how hard! The apostle Paul tells us that we run a race for a crown that will last forever. Our race is not a sprint; rather, it is a race of endurance. If we fall, then we must rise again and again. If we cease to run, if we fail to finish, then we run in vain.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize
is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we
for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight:
not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest,
when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Cor 9:24-27
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the
righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all
who have loved His appearing.” 2 Tim 4:7-8
You’ll never make it to heaven alone….You’ll either be helped by someone else, or you’ll help your brother or sister finish their race! A Japanese proverb says “fall seven times and get up eight.” You and I will stumble and fall more than a few occasions. God in His wisdom has given us a spiritual family who loves and cares for each other. Pray that a brother or sister in Christ will see and come to your aid. We are a spiritual family; we serve each other.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
Of course, we are each redeemed by the blood of our Savior. Our righteousness is through faith in Christ and not in our law keeping. It is God’s righteousness that comes through Christ and not our own! “so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:9-11
When I was a young child, my father took me to the swimming pool in Sherwood Park. It was my first experience; I had never been in water so deep. I was excited…and afraid, but he held me safely, and I was thrilled. My father then stood me on the bank, moved out into the pool enticing me into the water, asking me to jump in.
“I can’t,” I yelled above the noise of a busy pool, “I’m scared.”
“Don’t be afraid, son, come, I will catch you.”
I jumped that day with the complete faith that my father would save me, cradle me with love. I had no reason to fear, for he always lifted me when I fell. He never tired. It’s been twenty-five years since Earl Kitchener Pickett was called home; I miss him still. But even today, I have a spiritual Father who loves me and will catch me when I fall. He will catch you. God will never fail. He will never become tired. Trust and be faithful to God, and He will gather you in His loving arms and care for you until you return home….and He will lift you up!
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. …
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:8 & 10
Danny Earl Pickett