The Father Helps Us Cross the Finish Line

You're probably familiar with this image.  It is Derek Redmond, British 400-meter sprinter, in anguish as he injured his leg during his semi-final at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.  His father Jim was in attendance to watch his son race, and broke through multiple levels of security to console his son, and ultimately to help him cross the finish line.

I recently heard this story used as a sermon illustration, and it is a powerful one, of the Father coming alongside us when we are in pain to help us cross the finish line.  And that is probably the best sermon point that you can extract from this emotional and iconic moment.

But there's another facet of this story that I am holding in my heart.  Look at the anguish in the son's face.  He has trained all his life for this moment, only to have his dreams dashed in the blink of an eye.  What is so emotionally powerful about the father's act is not just that he helped his son, but that he did so at the moment of his son's greatest disappointment.

In life, we are not unlike the son, working and training and preparing for success in whatever we have set our hearts on.  Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will fail.  And sometimes, at the very brink of breakthrough, disaster will strike.  What I will hold in my heart about this story, about this image, is not just that our Heavenly Father helps us cross the finish line, but that He cares not that on our own we have fallen short of what we set out to do.  What matters to Him is not always that we win the gold; what matters to Him always is that we are on the track, and that with His loving help, we are crossing the finish line.

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