Friday, November 6, 2020

Encouragement in the Race by Melinda V. Inman

Photo of people running a race on a track

Encouragement in the Race 

In high school, I ran track, the 440-yard dash and the 880. Track was then measured in yards, not meters. A 440-yard sprint was one lap around the entire football field. When rounding the final curve, runners had depleted their energy reserves. Yet still, the entire race was a sprint.

Victory in the 880 required a fast pace through the entire first lap and well into the second. And then, rounding the final turn, sprinters kicked into their highest speed, an exhausting and painful effort. This exertion required encouragement to finish strong, either self-talk or shouts of reinforcement from others.

Teammates stood along that most difficult final curve to cheer one another along. Hearing familiar shouts propelled athletes forward. Being informed that competitors were far behind inspired the willpower to finish even stronger. If another runner was gaining, teammates’ shouts of that fact provided motivation to push harder.

Running the race required resolve, uplifting words of truth, and encouragement from others. Both races required every ounce of tenacity a competitor could muster, just like the current race in which we’re all engaged.

This year has been a difficult slog, like a sloppy, rainy day at the track. Everyone huddles in their warm sweatsuits on the school bus, pulling their hoodies tight around their faces when they disembark. Teammates leave the bus to cheer one another around the bend, and then runners and encouragers all arrive back chilled to the bone.

Still, they came out to cheer, for still the runners ran.

In this grueling long-distance race, a time of incredible conflict, sickness, and death, we have powerful teammates to motivate us. These encourage and inspire us, enabling us to share the message of God’s faithfulness, so that they are likewise empowered to run with endurance.

Meme of Hebrews 12: 1-2

We have Jesus, our most significant teammate. We have men and women of faith who have gone before us. The example of these and the promise of an eternity with the Lord equip us, upholding us through remembrances of how they lived and the foundation they laid for us.

Consider the actions of our ancestors in the pandemic of 1918-1920, in WW1, in the Great Depression, and in WW2. Run the race as they did. Push through this global 9/11-type event in virulent form like the heroes of that tragedy demonstrated.

Remember the believers of Hebrews 11 and their acts of obedience and faith. All of these godly people, their failures, their comebacks, and their victories inform and inspire us. Our remembrance of them and an awareness of an eternity with the Lord enable us to persevere.

Run the race as they did. Let go of whatever holds you back. With eyes aimed ahead, remind one another that we will round that last corner. We will finish this race.

We look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:2b-3 ESV).

Repeatedly, daily, frequently, consider Jesus. Ponder the reality of all he accomplished for us with his life, death, burial, and resurrection. Remember how he persevered, how he overcame. He revitalizes us, advocating for us, cheering us onward as we finish the race. His example gives strength to the weary and hope to the fainthearted.

Jesus is our everything. He comes alongside us.

He puts us back together when we fall flat on our faces, sprawled out on the track as the other competitors race away. His Spirit cheers us onward when we don’t think we can push through to the race’s end. His grace grabs hold, propelling us forward. His nearness carries us when we have no more strength.

This pandemic will not last forever, but our growth in faith and our reliance upon the Lord will impact our eternity. Write words of hope. Urge one another across the finish line. Faithfully hold fast to Christ. Expend everything for him. The victory has already been won in Christ.



This pandemic will not last forever, but our growth in faith and our reliance upon the Lord will impact our eternity. Write words of hope. The victory has already been won in Christ. #SeriouslyWrite #HopeMatters #WritingCommunity via @MelindaVInman

In this grueling race, a time of incredible conflict, sickness, and death, we have powerful teammates to motivate us. These encourage and inspire us, enabling us to share the message of God’s faithfulness. #SeriouslyWrite #Write via @MelindaVInman




Sequel to No Longer Alone 
(WW1 Based on a True Story)

Germany threatens all of Europe. Millions have died. President Woodrow Wilson makes the declaration that the United States must enter the Great War to rescue our allies. Congress approves. Our story begins. In America’s heartland, everyone hunkers down to provide food for the world and resources for the war effort. A draft is necessary, and all young men must register. One by one, these are called to war. With this threat looming, Prentis and Avery raise the necessary horsepower, cultivate the needed crops, and contribute their labors to the Red Cross.

But crises at home, an insidious busybody, and one after another called up to fight in Europe bring the greatest dangers they’ve ever faced together. Then there’s the influenza pandemic. Will they survive the war abroad and the war being waged at home, threatening their love and their lives? Will their loved ones make it home again? 




Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the South. Her fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives. 





17 comments:

  1. Melinda, Thank you for this beautiful and timely post! Running is a wonderful metaphor for life, and you did a great job of showing that. I've run track events and cross-country races, up to and including the marathon, and the verse from Hebrews 12:1 is special to me.

    Rounding the turn into the home stretch, the runner always feels like quitting. But you see the finish line ahead and you run the best race you can to cross it. Your post will inspire many to run well through this painful and difficult time.

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    1. Kay, it's always a blessing to meet a fellow runner, who appreciates the beauty of this passage from personal experience of running a race. You are absolutely right. We feel like quitting, and we need the encouragement to press on and to finish strong. When we look to Jesus, we can persevere in the hard parts of this life and the major challenges that have made this year so difficult. He is with us. We are surrounded by the support and cheering of those who have gone before. This is the time to run well.

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  2. Amen. The pandemic will not last forever. We need to show God's love at all times.

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    1. Isn't that a relief! This trying time has made it difficult to show love many times. First, we were locked down together. Then we had the challenge of loving those who wouldn't adhere to the safety requirement, and now our country is fighting and arguing over election results. We definitely need to look to Jesus for help to show God's love.

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  3. Melinda, indeed this was an encouraging post. I loved the line when you said Jesus is our teammate. He is the star of the race. If the folks in 1918 made it, we can too.

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    1. Yes! It's awesome to have a teammate who is the STAR and CAPTAIN of the team running alongside us, One we can look to for every single need during the race. The folks in 1918-1920 had a pandemic that took far, far more lives than "our" pandemic. By the grace of God, they came through it with Jesus' help, and so, too, shall we in the same way.

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  4. Amen! I love the focus of cheering one another on. Especially during this uncertain pandemic. The encouragement we give each other can help us trust God more and fear the present trouble less. Thank you for spurring us on with your encouraging words!

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    1. We'll probably look back on this year as one of the most difficult of our lives. We need the encouragement found in Christ, and we need encouragement from one another. The Lord WILL see us through! He CAN be trusted! We can lean as hard on him as needs be.

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  5. Melinda, this is one of the most beautiful and powerful pieces I've read with the analogy of a race and teammates. Truthfully, most of us struggle with not being fair-weather Christians. Just like it's no fun at the track to run on a rainy and yucky day; how we secretly wish for sunshine days for our race on this earth...for our lives and souls. So thankful Jesus is my MVP.

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    1. Jesus is a fantastic MVP, Karen, great analogy! He is the Teammate above all teammates, the One with the power to do and to accomplish all that we need to carry us through this incredibly difficult time. We have the godly generations who went before us, who battled their own pandemic and a world war simultaneously, the heroes of the faith who walked across the bottom of the Red Sea, the apostles who gave their lives to found the church of which we are still a part. That cloud of witnesses that went ahead of us inspire us NOT to be fair-weather Christians. The Lord is with us!

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  6. Great post and I love the analogy. As Christians, we are all on the same team. We should be cheering on each other and not competing against one another. Great reminder. Thanks Melinda.

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    1. With Christian teammates to cheer one another on, we empower one another to keep our eyes of Jesus and to remember the great cloud of witnesses so that we can kick it in hard to finish the race victorious! I so appreciate all who encourage me along the way, and I know you do, too. Thanks for commenting, Yvonne!

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  7. Powerful reminder to focus on the eternal rather than the temporary!

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    1. Thankfully the virus is temporary! This, too, shall pass!

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  8. I loved this SO MUCH, Melinda. And you are right -- this year HAS "been a difficult slog, like a sloppy, rainy day at the track." It truly has! The fact that we all keep showing up for one another is heartening. God is so good.

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    1. The writers I know and love, people like you, Jessica, have been so encouraging to me this year! The words you write uplift me, and the camaraderie of being on the same journey gives strength to press on! God is indeed so very good!

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