Charlie never fit in at school. He wore big glasses. His clothes didn’t fit. The kids laughed at him. He stared at the ground when he walked. His words came out in whispers.
He joined the cross country team. His reasons no one knew. The awkward gait so foreign to toned, athletic bodies.
Day after weary day Charlie ran alone. He couldn’t keep up with the other boys. They were already home when he slowly plodded into the school parking lot.
First race. Official standing, gun poised above his head. The time keeper hovering over the finish line. Waiting to start the numbers. I stand watching on the side. Now just an observer. Someday a runner.
Boys straining forward. Waiting for the loud pop to bring release. Charlie pushing up his glasses. Adjusting his shorts. Standing at the end of the line.
Bang! Streams of boys cascading down the hill. Three fast miles bring the boys past the finish line. The time keeper yelling out times. Coaches furiously writing down numbers in log books.
I stand hardly breathing. The strength. The excitement. One day I will be a runner.
Last runner finishes. Time keeper shouts his time. Coach writes. Finish line flags removed. Officials walk away.
I look at the team. Charlie is not there. He must have quit. Too far behind. Embarrassed.
Someone calls out, “Here comes another runner.” It’s Charlie. He crosses the finish line. The time keeper not there to call out his time. Charlie simply finished the race.
Tears ran down my face. Overcome with emotion. Deep thoughts in a young mind.
Charlie was a champion that day. He did not give up. He did not listen to the laughter of others. He did not believe that he was a loser as others had told him. He did not quit.
My Father marked out my race. He determined the distance before I pushed my way into the world. Before I filled my lungs with air. He was already watching from my tomorrow.
Open meadows and rocky mountains. Bright sunshine and tumultuous storms. Spring flowers and dead leaves. Mysteries revealed and answers hidden. It’s my race.
The Creator makes no mistakes. His hands formed me in the dark places. His beautiful plan revealed in seconds, not years. My life transformed from mere clay.
His hands leading me on. My hands touching the hurting. His words spoken on my lips bring life. God’s forgiveness flowing through me. His strength wrapped up in my arms.
Weary days. The race seems too difficult. The storms rumble through my soul. Dead leaves scatter at my feet. I can’t see His face. I cry, my voice evaporating in the wind.
My Lord’s still, quiet voice. I marked the race for you. I Am. I Am everything you need. Trust me. Don’t quit.
Rain pours down. I run. I trust.
He is good. He is God.
I will not quit.
Photography copyright © by Jane Carole Stein