When I was in fifth grade, our school held an annual Track and Field Day. Classes competed in events: short and long distance running, long jumps, the high jump, and others. Each class voted for those they wanted to represent them for the different events.

Athletic ability was not my gift. In fact, it was common to hear someone refer to me as "toothpick," or "Heather, Heather, what a feather."

But for some reason, that year I wanted to represent my class in track and field. We were down to voting on the last event: the nine-lap run.

This was one of the most grueling events, because the field was huge (to us) and running around it nine times seemed crazy! The nine-lap run promised only exhaustion and delayed gratification.

Up went my hand (the only hand in the class to go up), and my name was written on the board.

On Your Marks...
Track and Field Day arrived. Event after event took place. Then came the final event: the nine-lap race.

I lined up with the other kids. My classmates were on the sidelines ready to watch. My mom was on the sidelines ready to worry.

"Ready, set, go!"

I had been advised to pace myself. "You have nin laps to run; don't try and be a hero in the first three" others told me. I paced and ran, ran, and paced. Each time I ran past the line of classmates and parents, they waved and cheered me on. I was determined to finish this event, even if it meant crawling the last few laps.

I kept going... I finished the third, fourth, fifth, sixth lap. By then I was hot, sweaty, and very red. But skinny little "Heather the feather" was going on. As I began the final lap, I picked up speed--emotionally and physically. The sideline cheering got louder as I ran past and I pushed harder. I was one of only two kids still in the race. I rounded the last turn and ran toward the finish line. My mom and classmates were in sight. I crossed the line in first place! What a moment! What a feeling!

I was completely out of my league, but I had finished. I had run the nine-lap event, and I had won! My mom and my teacher ran over to me, looking both proud and prepared to dial 911 at the same time. Later, I received a blue ribbon with my name on it.

Eyes on the Prize
Now as a mother, I yearn for my daughter to know who I was, to embrace my stories and pictures, successes, and failures. Bu tmore than this, I hope she'll cultivate her own strengths. I pray she'll have her own stories of fun and laughter, honesty and grit. I pray she'll have more triumphs than trials.

Perhaps Jesus feels the same way. He wants us to take hold of who He is. He knows this world is tough. He knows the laps are long, many, and tiring. Jesus has been there. It's why He took a lap past Calvary. Jesus will help us!

Are we running with determination? Are listening to Jesus' coaching? "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

Let's keep running. He'll carry us when we feel we can't go on. We will finish. The golden streets of heaven, the home stretch, are almost within sight. Let's make it to the finish line!

This article was adapted from "Down the Home Stretch," on pp.28-29 of the April 26, 2012, Adventist Review.