His Victory in my defeat


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3

Fifteen feet from the finish line, I collapsed. Not exactly an ideal finish for your senior cross country season. I picked myself up in exhaustion and confusion as I barely stumbled to the final mark of my season.

I had high hopes for my last high school season. I wanted to be top in the state and lead my team to be the best we could be. I put in the work all summer and pressed on through the season.

As post-season meets approached, my performance on the course began to suffer. With high and unexplainable levels of fatigue halfway through the race, I was left confused and frustrated at my inability to compete. My position as a top runner in the region also suffered as I struggled to compete.

Alongside my frustration, I pressed in to the Lord and prayed for purpose on the course, because my patience was dwindling. I was so mad at myself in my insufficiency to run well. While I wanted athletic accolades, God was moving me towards a greater glory. In my identity crisis, I pursued him all the more. I tried to stay positive and I pushed my teammates from behind rather than leading the charge. I began to see even more value in encouraging my teammates and celebrating their gifts.

I found my only hope in scripture as I begged my heart to trust God in whatever was happening.

In the week leading up to the state meet, I immersed myself in Hebrews 12:1-3 (verse above). I would run the race with perseverance, fixing my eyes on Jesus. I would not run with fear, but instead with his power. And yet, sometimes you can just never anticipate the outcome…

Never did I expect my body to run out of gas before I reached the end as it did. Never did I hope for such helplessness or humility. But God takes everything for his glory. He takes our weakness and maximizes his strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).

After the race I was pulled back into a steady state of coherence. The Lord provided me with an overwhelming peace to process the events that had unfolded. My flesh longed for the accolades, but my spirit remained in God’s joy. I could only hang on to the hope of Hebrews 12 as I recited it again and again.

By God ‘s grace, I accepted the Lord’s victory in my own defeat. That’s what he did for me on the cross. He took on my broken state so that I may sit with him in victory. I can look back and praise him for this work in my life despite the turmoil of the time.

The victory of earth would have been all-state status, a spot on the state and medals for days. A victory in heaven was won in my heart instead as the Lord affirmed my identity in his acceptance rather than my achievement.




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