Reflections on the Race: Ecstasy of Victory

This morning as I was reflecting on the Verse of the Day for July 3, 2014, I was somehow led to a blog entry that I had posted a number of years ago. I was once again moved to tears as I viewed “The Derek Redmond Story,” an account of what occurred in the 1992 Olympics. I am re-posting the blog entry and trust that it will be a blessing to all who read it as well.

In the Race of Life, we are encourage to run that we might win.

In the Race of Life, we are encourage to run that we might win.

In reflecting upon an event that occurred when I was a rising sophomore in high school, I almost forgot about something else that occurred at the Presbyterian church camp where I made my debut as a teacher of the Bible. I relate this experience in the previous blog entry Faith: The Foundation of My Life.

Following the message that I delivered, we participated in a cross country race, and guess who came in first place? I won the race and later ran cross country and track throughout my high school career, where I experienced both “the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat” on numerous occasions.

In my time of prayer and meditation this morning, I reflected upon those times of triumph that inspired this poem “Ecstasy of Victory.” The epigraphs or introductory selections include a verse from the well-known athletic passage from 1 Corinthians 9 and the closing lines from “Barter” by Sara Teasdale, a poem that I was required to memorize as a junior in high school. I still know the poem by heart.

Ecstasy of Victory

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete,  

but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race]     

that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours.

I Corinthians 9:24 [Amplified Bible]

And for a breath of ecstasy

Give all you have been, or could be.

 Sara Teasdale

 

In this time of unsettling tremors and diverse earthquakes,

I boldly declare in song that “I Shall Not Be Moved.”

I am steadfast, unmovable, though my whole world shakes.

Having endured many fiery trials, I now stand approved.

I experience hardness that a soldier must endure.

Though I may not understand, there is always a reason:

For the refining process assures that the gold is pure,

Hence the trials and testing that abound in this season.

Strengthened by the Spirit of Might, as I finish my race,

I fulfill all of God’s will, all that He has planned.

With a surge of energy, I lunge to come in first place,

Then at last I stand upon the bema, the victor’s stand.

With hands upraised in total praise, a bondslave now set free

To savor ecstasy of victory for eternity.

As I was preparing this blog, I came across a YouTube video that moved me to tears, as it unfolded the inspiring account of Derek Redmond, Olympic sprinter from Great Britain. During his run the quarter finals of the 400 meter competition in Barcelona, he pulled a muscle and fell to the track in agonizing pain. When track and field officials came to help escort him off the track, Derek refused their help, for he was determined to finish the race. As he hobbled and crawled toward the finish line, someone came down from the crowd to encourage him and support him—Jim Redmond, his father.  In a commentary from Deeper Still, Phil McCallum relates the entire episode in a most inspiring manner:

There was a commotion in the crowd and a man ran down from the grandstands. He pushed his way through the security guards and ran on to the track towards his son. It was Jim Redman, Derrick’s father. He placed an arm around Derek.
“You don’t have to do this” Jim told his son.
“Yes I do” Derek replied.
“Well then” said Jim, “we’re going to finish this together”

Just before they reached the finish line, with the crowd screaming in support, Jim Redmond let his son go, so that he could cross the line on his own.

After the race Derrick Redman was interviewed and he said “My father was the only person who could have helped me, because he understood everything that I had been through.”

Here is a video capturing the inspiring “Derek Redmond Story.”

Although we all would like to make that final surge and come in first in a photo finish, but that may not always be the case. Regardless of the final outcome, we all want to finish our race and finish strong. Certainly the last leg of the Apostle Paul’s race was less than glorious, so some would say. Nonetheless, he was able to proclaim at the end of his ministry:

 6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

The olive wreath is a symbol of victory, a crown given to those who “run their best race and win it.”

Hebrews 12:1 in the Amplified Bible exhorts us: “. . . let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.” With these words we are strengthened and encouraged.

 

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3 Responses to “Reflections on the Race: Ecstasy of Victory”

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