Our family gatherings are often filled with much joy, fellowship, laughter, and fun activities. When I say activities, I’m talking about competitions, water balloons, eggs, ropes, and races. My family is competitive to say the least.
At our most recent family event, teams lined up for the three-legged race. So I did what any competitive mother would do. I eased up close to my son and used the tie to bind our legs as tight as possible. I was willing to compete and ready to win. The countdown started and so did the adrenaline. Before I knew it, my son and I had our arms wrapped around each other’s waists, and our legs moved in a synchronized motion. We ran. We laughed. We thought we had it all together until suddenly the pace changed. At some point, our steps were no longer aligned. Instead of having my eyes on the crowd, I was instantly looking at the ground, and it was quickly closing in on me. Falling was inevitable, so I braced myself to protect my face as much as possible.
We made our way back to our feet in a hurry. After all, we had a race to win, and the competition was steep. We watched other teams fall all around us, and we kept it steady as long as we could. The only problem was that the steadiness wasn’t long enough. My son and I fell again. This time the fall was not on grass but on gravel. We were down again, and there was no way we would win the race. Blood streamed from my shoulder, my knee, and my ankle, but I didn’t feel an ounce of pain. Crossing the finish line was the only thing on my mind, and I was determined to experience this victory with my son. Being in first place was out of my reach, but I could hear screaming from the finish line saying, “Just keep going. You can do it. Don’t give up!” We stayed in the race, and we finished the course despite the falls, bruises, and blood.
As I tended to my wounds later that night, I pondered how my Christian journey compared to my three-legged race. There was such a striking resemblance in the way I started my journey fast and furious and the way I ended constant and committed. Years prior, I left the church alter eager to set the world on fire for Christ. My vision only saw the cross before me and the world behind me. Somewhere between my fire being ignited and the place where I find myself today, there were quite a few inconsistencies. I’ve fallen more times than I’d like to keep track of, and I’ve caused others to plummet a time or two. Some bad decisions and impure actions brought about some wounds, but I’m still in the race, and my eyes are on the finish line. I keep getting up and getting back in the race.
I learned to walk at the pace that God has outlined for my path in life. Going at the wrong speed and focusing on the race of others proved to be a distraction in the competition and in my walk with Christ. I’m not immune to the insidious attacks of the enemy or the desires of the flesh. At the same time, I understand the consequences of sin and try my best to shy away from willful disobedience. Then it happens again. And again. And again. I fall for one reason or another. The good news is that I can get up again because Proverbs 24:16a says, “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again.” You can get up again too. Adversity may be part of our story, but victory at the finish line is our destination.
God’s grace and mercy are never to be taken for granted or abused. Neither are they to be overlooked and watered down. Grace and mercy afford us another chance to get back on track. Whether we fall into sin or calamity, we can rise again. Let’s finish the race.
Betina Brandon is a wife, mother, author, educator, and speaker who thrives on helping women to live an adventure of faith by walking out the Word of God. She has a Master’s Degree in Education and is a regular keynote speaker at women’s conferences and retreats.
Betina is married to Joseph and has two sons, Justin and Joshua. She enjoys reading, writing, being outdoors, and spending time with her family. You can find her on Twitter @betinabrandon.