Against the Wind

Hebrews 12:1

When I was a freshman in high school, I signed up for athletics. Our school was small, so students either signed up for athletics or something else. Everyone in athletics competed in all sports, which in this case meant basketball, tennis, and track. The track coach couldn’t figure out what to do with me. I was too slow to be a sprinter, too small to throw shot or discuss, and too uncoordinated to high jump or pole vault. I tried it all with varying degrees of un-success. He finally decided to place me in the mile run. I had only one quality that proved to be an advantage – endurance.

Because the school had limited resources, the “track” was simply a pasture in which some of the local farmers had graded an oval running space. The dimensions were a little off, so the distance was actually a little shorter than the regulation 400 meters. The coach adjusted by marking the actual finish line at four and a quarter laps instead of four. This dirt track is where we practiced most days. On other days, the coach would drive the team 15 miles to a nearby town for practice on an actual asphalt track. Just outside of that town, he would stop the bus and tell the milers, “Head toward home, and we’ll pick you up when practice is over.” So we started running down the highway.

Tracksters in the Texas panhandle face a challenge that few other locations present – the wind. Track season is in the spring, and springtime is the windiest time of year. A calm day meant the wind was less than 40 miles per hour. (One day, after practice, I went home to find the wind had peeled the siding off our mobile home and blown it several blocks away.) All this meant that at least half of the time, I was running against the wind. It also meant that after the second lap of a four lap mile on the dirt track, I had worked up a sweat. There was dirt from the track and from the surrounding plowed fields blowing in the air and into my eyes and sticking to my sweat.  Nonetheless, I had endurance.

The local newspapers published the results of the track meets. They printed the names of first place, second place, third place, and so on. Then they printed the other names as “also ran.”  I never won first place, in fact I never placed, I was an “also ran.” I finished every race, though. I refused to quit. Through wind, dirt, sweat, and mud, I would not quit.

In my final track meet, I didn’t finish last. I felt that was what they call “a moral victory.” After we all loaded up in the bus for the trip home, I called from the back of the bus, “Hey coach, what was my time?” He hollered back, “5:56.” Everyone on the bus cheered me; I had never broken the six minute mile. I grinned all the way home.

I learned that running against the wind doesn’t last forever. Around the next turn, I would be running with the wind at my back. Life is like that sometimes. We just have to keep going. Some days the wind is stronger and some days it is lighter. Just don’t quit.

Against the wind
We were runnin’ against the wind
We were young and strong, we were runnin’ against the wind.

(Bob Seger)

Published in: on April 2, 2019 at 12:52 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I needed this encouragement today. Thank You, Wes! You and the family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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