We've thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympics these past couple
of weeks. The skill and commitment of all of the Olympians are
astonishing. Many of them have been working at a sport they love
since they were toddlers. In fact, for many children, competitive
sports begin early in life.
That's the way it was for "Jake." He found himself on a
miniature cross country team in his kindergarten year. However,
like most kindergarteners, Jake could be easily distracted. During
the course of his first cross country season, he became known for
frequent stops to take a rest or visit with another kid along the
way to the finish line.
On one particular Saturday morning, just prior to the final race
of the season, Jake told Coach Vickie that he was ready to stay the
course. Since he was one of the youngest runners in the meet, she
decided to run with him. From the starting point on top of a hill,
they could see Jake's parents and the rest of the onlookers
stationed on both sides of their path near the bottom. They were
From about halfway back in the pack, Jake jumped at the sound of
the gun and quickly picked up the pace. "That was your best start
ever!" Vickie shouted. Jake, running with his head held high, broke
into a smile. He even remembered to wave to his mom and dad when he
passed through the cheering fans at the bottom of the slope.
After a few hundred yards, they reached the wooded part of the
course. That's when something caught Jake's eye. Suddenly, he
pulled up under a leafy tree and came to a full stop. "Wow!" he
shouted to Vickie, who was still running with the pack. "Look at
all the buckeyes!" With that, he began stuffing as many as he could
into the pockets of his hooded sweatshirt and pants.
Vickie turned around and came back. "Come on, Jake. We need to
catch up to the pack," she pleaded. Jake, having discovered a new
mission, turned a deaf ear to her words. Even though he finished
dead last that day, his pockets bulged with buckeyes and he wore a
grin from ear to ear.
Cross country simply wasn't Jake's race. How often do we run as
fast as we can in someone else's race? Do we chase trophies for
shelves when we would rather be picking up buckeyes? 1 Corinthians
12 speaks to the variety of spiritual gifts and the usefulness of
Jake may not have won the race that day, but he was the only one
with the vision to see what others missed. In this time of terrible
tragedies in many places, it might be a good thing for us to slow
down and travel with those of us who can recognize the beauty in
seeds rather than winner's trophies.