If we want our children to finish strong we have to be willing to run alongside them when they are struggling.
Last fall I ran a 5K with three of my older children. When the race began all three kids were running strong and well ahead of me. After we passed the first mile marker one of them started falling back behind the other two and eventually fell far enough back that I caught up to her. I came alongside her and asked how she was doing. She complained of cramps. We continued running together well behind her brother and sister. I was enjoying the run and hadn’t noticed that my straggling child had now fallen back behind me and was barely running. At this point I had a tough decision to make. I had been looking forward to this run all year long and had worked hard to get there. It was a beautiful day and I was running better than I ever had before. I really wanted to keep running and just say a prayer for her. I decided to turn around and head back to where she was. I ran in the wrong direction for awhile, with runners passing me by, until I reached her and then turned around and continued alongside her. She told me that she was having really bad cramps and felt like she couldn’t keep going. It was not easy for me to keep her going. I had to encourage her to run through the pain and difficulty of the cramps. I told her she could do it and just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. “Just don’t stop! Keep going! We’re almost there!” I said. She wimpered some and protested. She was not happy with me and wanted me to leave her alone. All she desired at that moment was to quit and be free from the pain she was feeling, but do you know what happened? When that child set eyes on the finish line off in the distance she kicked into high gear and left me in the dust. She ended up crossing the finish line with her other two siblings long before I did.
When our children begin to struggle in the race of life we have to turn back and go after them. That will require us to let go of our own agenda and our own perceived place in the race. We may see others seemingly passing us by, but we must know with certainty that we win when we sacrifice for our children. We win when we are willing to stop everything and help them so that they can run their race well and stay in it til the end.
It will look a little different for each mother and child. You can trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to what things you need to do in order to run alongside your child and encourage them to keep going. We can expect some resistance and annoyance on our child’s part but we can’t let that bother us or interfere with what we must do. Our part is to be willing to do whatever the Lord would call us to. We must be ready to set aside our own personal interests, careers, finances, time and even sleep to minister to our children. Never do we run a better race than when we are helping them to run theirs.
If you have a child who is struggling in any way, ask the Lord what He would have you to do in order to encourage that child. Be willing to do whatever He directs you to do. These are dark and difficult days. It will not suffice to say a prayer and just keep on running, hoping everything will work out okay. Jesus describes how to care for little ones by telling of the man who left the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one lost sheep. (Matthew 18:10-14) When a child is in trouble they need help getting back to where they belong. Go after your child. You will not regret stopping in the middle of your own race to run back and help them finish strong.
Jesus, thank you for being willing to leave heaven and come run alongside us so that we might cross that finish line into your Kingdom. Please help us be willing to do the same for our children and show us what that will require on a daily basis.