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This weekend several area athletes will have the joy of competing in the Minnesota State High School Track and Field Championships at Hamline University.

The opportunity to compete against the best athletes in the state and in front of huge crowds of spectators, is an experience most will never forget. Blessings to all the athletes and coaches that they may prepare to give their best, no matter what happens.

Due to the intensity of a state championship, unexpected events will happen! For example, at the WIAA State Track and Field meet last weekend at UW- La Crosse, Ben Schnoor of Germantown lost his shoe at the start of the 3200 meter run. It was 200 meters later that he finally threw off his sock right in front of where I was volunteering as a track umpire.

For the next seven laps I watched with amazement as he ran the remainder of the race wearing only one shoe. He never once let up! I don’t know how he did it, but he persevered to the end, finishing 7th.

When interviewed after the race, Schnoor said that he decided to run barefoot because “that sock was useless.” Overcoming an unexpected setback to finish with a personal best time, was truly an inspirational performance.

There are lessons to be learned from inspirational performances like this that are useful for competitors, spectators and readers of this devotional. It is wise to be prepared for unexpected setbacks in life, for they will happen.

It is reasonable to expect obstacles to get in the way of the goals you set and that challenges will arise that will need to be overcome. It is understandable that difficult times will come that make you weary, discouraged and tempted to quit.

When growing weary or faint hearted, it is important to have someone to look to for inspiration and hope. For me and for many Christians, that person is Jesus. When you are growing weary, or losing heart, look to Jesus.

When you feel weak, look to Jesus, for he is strong! Look to what Jesus and what he endured on the cross.... all for the sake of the joy of seeing you on the victory stand! That’s right, in great love for you, Jesus suffered and died so that you might have life!

Inspired by Jesus’ strong, but gentle, love for you, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1b), and live fully for the sake of the joy that is set before you!

Rev. Kent D. Johnson is the pastor at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in La Crescent.


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