Amazing things happen in unexpected places. Just such a thing happened at a Jr. High cross country race earlier this year. The course was laid out through a heavily wooded area, and the path was not clearly marked. Nearing the end of the race, one of our junior high boys was in second place, right on the heels of a runner from Parma. Unexpectedly, the Parma athlete took a wrong turn, and our runner had the perfect opportunity to take over first place.
Only he didn’t. The Archer runner stopped, yelled directions to the Parma runner, and waited for him to come back to the right course and get back in first place.
Stopping wasn’t premeditated. Our runner didn’t do it because his parents were watching or compelling him. He didn’t agonize over a complex moral dilemma for weeks. He just did it because it was the right thing to do, despite a dominant culture that praises winning at all costs.
Our runner was never able to overtake the other boy, finishing in second place. It wasn’t until the Parma runner asked one of our coaches to thank our student that anyone was even aware of what had taken place.
I Corinthians 9:24-27 reads in part: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.…. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” I can’t remember who won any other race all season, but I will eternally remember who finished second at that race. That’s an imperishable crown. At The Ambrose School we talk often about rightly ordered affections – loving the right things to the right degree – and this is a particularly poignant example of a student doing just that. Our runner loves winning, to be sure; but there are higher things he loves even more. To God be all the glory.