”I heard you at the finish line!!!”
My oldest is a cross country runner. He made the decision while still in grade school to become one and he is now in his final high school season.
As a spectator sport, Cross Country has its own challenges and opportunities. There is no stadium to sit in and watch the runners run. If it is raining, you run (and my youngest ran a middle school conference championship several years ago in a strong thunderstorm!). If it is snowing you run. Probably those who follow golf would be most likely to understand how to “spectate” at a cross country race!
You are up close and personal as a spectator. You can (but shouldn’t and can’t) reach out and touch a runner as they go by. You can yell at (read as: encourage) your runner and their teammates far easier at a Cross Country race than at a football game. Cross Country is a unique sport and offers a chance to uniquely spectate.
I was reminded of this power of encouragement when one of my son’s teammates came up to me after a race last weekend and said, “I heard you at the finish line!”
The comment gave me a fresh perspective on my one word for 2013: Empower and helped me to see Hebrews 12:1 in a clearer way:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,… Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
As I heard the pleasure and excitement in his voice, I realized anew that words of encouragement are vital in this process of empowering people to accomplish important tasks such as running a race, everyday tasks such as parenting, and the mission which God has for us as defined in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.