The largest cheer of the day was for someone who came last in what was the slowest time of the day by a very long way.
My daughter attends a school for children with learning difficulties and recently it was their sports day. It was a real joy to watch these young people taking part and it was refreshing to hear how much someone had improved being celebrated alongside who was winning the various races.
The highlight of the day came during the 200m when one of the runners sat down on the track with around 100m to go. A member of staff made their way over to the runner and helped her up and they both began walking towards the finishing line.
The girl involved was clearly distraught and she looked down at the ground as she trudged along the race track
It was especially impressive that she was going to finish the race even if it was in the slowest time of the day and so as she neared the finishing line the crowd began to clap.
As we clapped, the girl looked up and began to grin. The misery faded, the trudging stopped and the girl began to run and as she did the crowd began to cheer!
As we began to cheer, the grin gave way to a beaming face and the girl began to wave to us as she ran along. As she was about to cross the finish line she stopped, faced the crowd and bowed and in that moment the crowd went wild.
There were some great sporting moments that afternoon. I was immensely proud of my daughter who ran with joy but my dominant memory of that sports day will always be of the girl who took great delight in finishing even though she came last.
The Bible compares the way we live out our faith to running a race and the language is always about finishing the race, not coming first or beating everyone else.
Sometimes I feel as if I am running well in my faith whilst at other times it feels more like I am trudging along the track.
It was wonderful to be reminded that we aren’t running the race alone and that as we do our best to live out our faith there is a real opportunity for us to cheer one another on.
Without a cheering crowd, the runner would have finished but she still would have felt miserable. As we cheered, she found value and self-worth in who she was and what she was doing and this surely should inspire us to cheer one another on in life.
How can we cheer someone on in their life of faith today?
How can we encourage someone and encourage them to keep going?