Along the way of our journey are things we forgot to acknowledge, not because we are in a hurry in the moment against time, but because we fail to appreciate the timeless moments of beauty around us.
- Stony the road we trod,
- Bitter the chast’ning rod,
- Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
- Yet with a steady beat,
- Have not our weary feet
- Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
- We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
- We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
- Out from the gloomy past,
- ‘Til now we stand at last
- Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
- God of our weary years,
- God of our silent tears,
- Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
- Thou who has by Thy might
- Led us into the light,
- Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
- Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
- Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
- Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
- May we forever stand,
- True to our God,
- True to our native land.
This morning I just read in a blog about a man named, Abibe Bikila. Abibe happens to be the first Black African to win an Olympic gold medal. In the 1960 Olympics, he ran and won – with NO SHOES ON.
The writer Dr. Jamal Bryant asked the question, who, in his right mind, would prepare for an Olympic marathon by waking up, stretching, and doing all that a good coach trained him to do, with NO SHOES ON? The 1960 Olympic marathon winner didn’t even know until the last minute that he was part of the Ethiopian team. He was a “replacement” runner. So when the team didn’t have shoes to fit Abebe Bikila he didn’t break a sweat, at least over that. The shoes they supplied for him weren’t a comfortable fit. This would have posed a crisis for many, but Abebe had already TRAINED without shoes on his feet.
For a marathon runner, stamina, strength and conditioning are essential. But, shoes have to be one of the most important ingredients for the runner to be prepared for the long journey. How does one TRAIN without what most other people have and still be comfortable enough to make it, and confident enough to even try? When you may not even be aware that what you don’t have is supposed to be a disqualifier because you’ve never had it and always put your feet on hard unpaved ground to do what must be done, anyway. This is the necessary strength and conditioning that goes way beyond the physical to equip champions to WIN.
Some of you may have thought you’re not ready to win: too much is missing. Abebe wasn’t even on the original team. Imagine that: the Olympian winner wasn’t even a front-runner to compete until they needed him. The winner wasn’t in the original line-up or a favorite to win. Yet the winner was already trained, prepared and in the right place at the right time. God’s favor isn’t fair and it doesn’t matter how you get the chosen opportunity for you to run. Abebe got into the winning position without shoes that fit. And, he won. What more should happen for those of us with God’s favor?
Abebe ran again-with shoes on- in 1964 to become the first Olympian athlete to successfully defend the marathon title. This time, he ran and won less than 6 weeks after an emergency removal of his appendix! While in ’64 he had the equipment he was supposed to have, he ran while mildly recovering from a major surgery. There was still some adversity.
Like I told you last week, you can be S.M.A.R.T. and play it safe. SMART thinking says you’ve got to let so-and-so run because you don’t have your shoes. Or, smart thinking says you’ve got to take it easy and rest up, you can run in the next Olympics because if you don’t heal properly now, you’ll never be able to run again. Smart thinking does produce successful people. But some of you can’t afford to be S.M.A.R.T. Some of you need to run with no shoes on or you’ll never compete. You can’t win if you’re not on the track to run with all that you have.
I’m talking to all of my shoe-less champions. You better run while you are able to run, and run well. You won’t always have to run without shoes on. Know that you can win with them custom-made around every single one of your toes with the latest shock-absorbing technology or lightweight materials. Or, you can run and win without them.
A good pair of shoes may enhance the winner and make the run easier, but shoes don’t make the winner. You’ve been made with God’s DNA and His intentions for you are to WIN. As you live a life that is pleasing to God, keep on running. You will eventually hit the finish line as a winner. With God’s help, you can run and finish. You’re in this to endure until the end. Now, stretch and stay empowered.