Your focus is drawn to her even while they announce the runners on either side - five to her left, two to her right. Who can blame you? She stands out - and not just because of her black, green and gold waist-length hair, or her powerful frame.
Even from 3,000 miles away, you can see that her eyes are trained on the finish line. You can feel the determination in the panes of her shoulders and hear the steady thrum of her confidence.
A hush whispers through the crowd as she lowers to her starting position.
She explodes from the block like the rocket they call her. At thirty metres, she's in the lead, her hair billowing behind her like a flag. She begins pulling ahead, drawing her teammates along behind her as she streaks past the sixty-metre mark. Her teammates must stay with her, knowing it's the only way they'll have a chance. But they don't get it as she sails across the finish line.
The crowd roars!
A race to remember
"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus..." (Excerpt from Hebrews chapter 12, verses 1 to 2)
While watching this year's World Championships in Oregon, USA, I was awed by many of the athletes. There were many great moments at the competition but I kept returning to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's performance in the 100M sprint final.
Yes, I'm biassed because she's from Jamaica and is a fellow believer, but her attitude towards her athletic career is reminiscent of a man of God whom I greatly admire, Caleb, the son of Jephunneh.
Lay aside every weight
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce first came to global attention at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 after winning the 100-metre sprint final ahead of the race's favourites. Since then, she's continued to establish herself as one of the greatest female sprinters of all time while continuing to give glory to the God who gifted her.
When she's at her starting block, you can see her putting aside every doubt, and without looking to her right or left, settling herself to run the race that she and her coach practised.
The world tried to limit her because of her age. At 34, she achieved an exceptional personal best of 10.60s. Then as a 35-year-old mother, she received her fifth gold medal over a hundred metres at the World Championships, and she has no intention of retiring while she's still able to compete at a high level.
"My expectation is to run until I am finished. When I am finished I am finished." - (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in a KLAS Interview in March 2021)
But what about Caleb?
Refuse to be ensnared
Caleb the son of Jephunneh, along with Joshua the son of Nun, were the only two adults (Israelites over the age of 20) who knew both slavery in Egypt and freedom in Canaan. They were the only first-generation recipients of God's promise to Abraham.
When the ten spies who were afraid of the strength of the Canaanites had done their job of infecting the rest of the people with fear and mistrust, Caleb, said this:
"Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it" – (excerpt from Numbers chapter 13, verse 30)
Caleb and Joshua believed God when He said that He would give the promised land to them. Their belief endured even while the Israelites wandered in the desert after God's rejection.
Forty-five years later, Caleb was still rearing to enter the Promised Land. He was at an age when most of us would hope to retire from work - not be a part of a military campaign.
"...here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in." (Excerpt from Joshua chapter 14, verses 10 to 11)
As a reward for his faithfulness, Caleb was given his pick of the land of Canaan.
What can we learn from Shelly-Ann and Caleb?
Run with endurance
Now we aren't all sprinters or warriors, but God has a purpose for every one of us - a race for each of us to run. He's not as concerned with our pasts, ages or 'limitations' as we are. He just wants us to trust Him to do all that He's called us to do while we're on this earth.
Running that race requires trust - that God has enabled us to run it well. It also requires endurance - to run faithfully to the finish line. Jesus is that finish line and it would behove us to keep our focus trained on Him. Therein lies our victory. Therein lies our great reward.
So will you run your race?
Republished from Christian Today UK.