A few days ago it was Track and Field day at my children's school.
A day that is anticipated by some and dreaded by others.
As my children prepared for their big day it was with mixed emotions. My 7 year old daughter who is very athletic like her father, had trepidation about her day, didn't think she would do well at all.
My 9 year old son sailed out the door with confidence. He also gets his athletic abilities from his Dad.
My youngest, who is 4, and I set off to the school at 9am to meet up with the kindergarten class (where my 5 year old was) to join in on the cheering of the older children as they ran, jumped and threw.
It was a fantastic day. Races were won, and lost. Some children sailed over the high bar in the high jump and others knocked it down consistently. We took photos of the students as they took a run and a series of skips before hurtling into the air for the running long jump.
There were pensive faces and grins of relief.
But there was one pervasive characteristic of that day that brought tears to my eyes over and over.
It was the time when the grade 5/6 class stood waiting for their turn at the high jump, and as the grade 3/4 boys took their turn attempting to conquer the rail, they were cheered on and each got a high five from their waiting older peers as they went back to line up, whether or not they were successful.
It was when the grade 3/4 boys were watching the girls from their class run a long race and one child was lagging far behind. They all cheered her on, but one of the most athletic boys left his spot at the side of the track, joined his classmate on the track and ran with her the rest of the way to the finish, encouraging her on, step by step.
It was the teachers doing the same..."you can do it, keep going, you're almost there..", as they ran alongside the track.
And the mad cheering from all onlookers as even the slowest runner made it past the line.
And there were no losers! When it came to ribbon time, there were first, second and third place ribbons and everyone who didn't place in one of these spots was awarded a fourth. And they surely earned it, by being there, by giving all they had.
While talking with one of the teachers that day, she noted that this is a day that some students dread, but it's balanced by days that recognize students with other talents (public speaking, science fair, etc.).
The day was characterized by the word ENCOURAGEMENT and because of that every child walked away a winner.
Isn't that how our Christian walk should be. As we come along side each other, as we cheer on those who are struggling, as we pray and love, we win the race, for this is how Christ taught us to be. How wonderful I feel when someone encourages me, when the Holy Spirit sends them at the right time and I am given a hand up off the side of the road where I have sat down.
How right it is to see a brother or sister struggling and to go, to be sent, to be a missive from God Himself to say "you are not forgotten, take my hand for a while, let's do this together".
"Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather healed".