The stage was the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. About 100 meters into the 400-meter semifinal race, Britain’s Derek Redmond crumpled to the track with a torn right hamstring. If you’ve never experienced this – it is excruciatingly painful. It feels like someone has shot you in the back of your leg with a shotgun.
Medical attendants rushed out to assist him, but Derek waved them all away, struggled to his feet, and began hopping and crawling forward in a desperate effort to finish the race. You see, Derek had worked for years to qualify for the previous Olympics in Seoul, Korea, but had to pull out because of Achilles tendon problems (which resulted in multiple surgeries). Amazingly, he had again worked hard enough to qualify for the Barcelona Olympics. This was to be his moment. Now, this happens.
About the time the capacity crowd began to wipe their eyes in complete admiration and amazement, the television cameras catch a glimpse of a guy wearing a T-shirt, tennis shoes, and a Nike (“Just Do It”) cap jumping out of the stands. He shoved aside a security guard, ran to Derek’s side, and embraced him. That determined man was Jim Redmond, Derek’s father.
Now, with his strong arm supporting Derek around his waist, and Derek’s arm around his dad’s broad shoulders, they slowly limp down the track. The crowd is stands, cheering and wiping away tears. The other competitors, already finished, stand applauding. Derek and his daddy work their way around the track until they finally, arm in arm, cross the finish line.
If that’s the way an earthly father responds to his son who is determined to finish the race no matter what the price, how much more does our heavenly Father, run to the side of his son or daughter who says, “I’m finishing this. I don’t care how much it hurts”.
Marriage is hard. Fathering is hard. There are times when we want to quit, to stop working at it, to ease the pain. God continues to encourage us, by His Spirit, to press on, trust Him, keep walking – making progress. He will help us, support us, cheer us on, and give us all the strength we need to finish well.
God reminds us of His love and strong shoulders also in Isaiah 46:3-4 – “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived,
and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
We have an awesome, loving Father, Who is always ready to run to our side when we need Him, and give us His strength when ours is gone.