In the summer of 1992 during the quarter finals of the 400 meter sprint at the Barcelona Olympics, British athlete Derek Redmond was favored to win a gold medal. A lifetime of training had brought Derek to this precise moment. As the gun fired, athletes burst out of the blocks in their effort to achieve gold.
Derek was leading, then halfway through the race disaster struck — his hamstring went and Derek collapsed on the track. In physical and mental agony, medical attendants ran to assist him, but Derek waved them away. He had come to race and he was going to finish. He got to his feet and started hobbling down the track.
The stadium crowd was mesmerized. Officials didn’t know whether to intervene or not, when suddenly an older man ran onto the track. He brushed off officials who tried to stop him and ran up beside Derek and placed his arms around him. The man was Derek Redmond’s father, Jim.
“You don’t have to do this son,” Jim said. “Yes, I do,” Derek replied. “Then we’ll finish this race together,” his father replied. Arm in arm, with anguish on Derek’s face, tears on his father’s, Derek and Jim continued down the track. Derek buried his face in his father’s shoulder. His father’s strong shoulders carried his son physically and emotionally around the track. Jim waved away officials who tried to stop them. Finally, accompanied by a now roaring crowd, standing on their feet and applauding, Derek Redmond crossed the finish line. This defining moment of perseverance in the face of severe trial went down in history.
Now that’s perseverance — the drive that keeps us going even in the midst of severe trials. We’ve heard that slow and steady wins the race, but often that extra encouragement is what’s needed to keep us going. Derek Redmond’s father didn’t have to be asked, he just needed to be willing to be the conduit for his son to persevere.
Trials come in all shapes and sizes. Ask anyone, and you will find hundreds of accounts of personal trials that will make you scratch your head wondering how anyone could withstand the test. Read the Bible and consider all the stories from cover to cover. Each one depicts different trials testing a person’s fortitude, endurance and steadfastness, ultimately building maturity in that person’s walk with God.
This week I’m going to look for opportunities to be that conduit without having someone wonder, “Is Anybody Listening?”
James 1:12 “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”