One of the proudest moments for a parent is to witness their child step out in faith and exercise their gifts and talents for the world to see.
They reveal to the world what the parent already knows to be true — that their child is special.
Sometimes they are recognized publicly for their efforts. Rounds of applause. Nods of approval. The exhilaration of success. And the loudest cheers can be reserved for those who simply finish the race.
When a child extends themselves to try a new skill, to place themselves in the public arena to be judged, there is great risk and reward. Acknowledged success to a job well done can be instrumental to a child’s development. Yet, as they grow older, when hard work fails to live up to their expectations, there is profound disappointment.
Sometimes it’s too much for a parent to bear.
When the child rejoices, a parent rejoices tenfold.
When a child experiences disappointment, a parent is heartsick with them.
On the day of the event, the evening of the performance, the morning of judgment, the parent is literally sick with anticipation. They fully understand the risk being taken as their child steps into the arena to toil and to sweat. They can’t help but desire for their children to receive satisfaction, fulfillment and even accolades in their performance. The parent also knows the risk of experiencing disappointment. They wish to shield this pain from their children, but smart parents recognize that out of the ash heap of disappointment, wonderful opportunities can sprout and grow.
And it is in these moments when the curtains are opened, the starting gun is raised, the recital begins, that a parent breathlessly captures the moment before them when the child steps into the spotlight.
On Saturday, I watched my two sons compete in a track and field meet representing Boise State University. To battle the nerves, I say a prayer of thanksgiving that they are receiving a wonderful opportunity to not only compete and receive joy in the competition, but also experience first-hand what the Apostle Paul was talking about in living the Christian life.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor. 9:24-25)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:7-8)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Receiving the victor’s crown from finishing the race is the status of a believer’s life while living in the shell of a sin-stained body. This dichotomy and struggle of the Christian life is wonderfully captured in the words of Paul. They are brilliantly inspired within the backdrop of competing in a race.
When the applause is finished, the ribbons have been handed out, and the last cars leave an empty parking lot, parents receive the wonderful opportunity to extend grace. They give perspective to disappointment and to victory. Plus, they give the assuring nod of approval that each child longs from their parents. That is the same nod of grace we receive from God. The same nod we will see on that day when he places that everlasting crown in heaven and claims us as His child and His heir.
And it will all be worth it.