I’m in this race to win a prize
The odds against me
The world has plans for my demise
What they don’t see
Is that a winner is not judged by his small size
But by the substitute he picks to run the race
And mines already won

-Audio Adrenaline, Underdog

 

I was out walking one night last year while living right around the corner from Vanderbilt, one of the great institutions of learning—thought maybe I’d pick up some knowledge by osmosis living near-by.  It didn’t work out quite that way. A route I would often take passed by the university’s track where several runners and budding track-stars would be slogging around the black top covered oval at any given time of the day out there making their rounds in pursuit of some worthy goal.  One night I noticed a considerably younger girl trailing a pack of older girls, she wasn’t all that far behind, but far enough that it looked as if she had no shot at catching them.  For all I know, the young girl had been lapped several times over.  She was giving it her all and it was obvious she was in hot pursuit to catch these girls, no matter the odds.  It was moving.

What gave me goose bumps was not this young runner as much it was the man I noticed jogging up and down around the middle of the track.  He was intent on motivating these girls as he barked out encouragement.  I couldn’t hear him, but I am sure he was pulling for this little girl, just like I was. 

Even if she didn’t win, I wanted to see her catch up and challenge the group she lagged behind.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!    (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, The Message)

I got to thinking as I walked on past that track and further down the road, that I am an underdog myself in many ways—sort of like that girl.  Be it my average to less than average size, my education, or my lack of it.  Certainly my meager income has me feeling a little dis-advantaged at times, that is, when I have an income.  And I don’t always consider my personal brokenness and my many shattered dreams any kind of asset much of the time.

God’s like that coach or dad in the middle of the track, you know.   Cheering us on.   Calling us forward.   Motivating us to stretch irregardless of our limitations.  Even if we do trail the runners ahead.  And when we think there is no possible way to catch them, God believes we can pass them.

If you feel like an underdog, take heart.

God is for the underdogs.

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