A few weeks ago, our littles had the opportunity to participate in a charity fun run for Hope Kids (An organization dedicated to providing for support for families battling childhood cancer).
Our friends graciously invited us to come participate with them. Mind you, I am NOT a runner, but wanted to give my littles the opportunity to try something new, and stand with their friends for a worthy cause.
The littles were all excited as they lined up on the starting line. The oldest were literally jumping up and down in anticipation. Meanwhile, the youngest were dizzy looking around at all the commotion just trying to figure out what was going on. The chatter of anxious questions, and parents giving last minute pep talks buzzed in the air.
Then the whistle blew.
They were off!
Hundreds of tiny little feet scurrying across the start line. My 5 year-old hustled next to her bestie, not even trying to contain giggles from all the fun they were having. My 3 year-old moving her legs as fast as she could just trying to keep up with the bigs. And I walked briskly behind with my growing pregnant belly. I figured it was only half a kilometer…a half-K? And the exercise would be good for me. Plus, who doesn’t love a leisurely jaunt around a lake? The kids we running, they were all having fun. I’d take my time.
Then as my 3 year-old hits the half-way mark I see her sit down and begin to cry. Maybe I won’t be taking my sweet time after all. I carried my pregnant self over to her as fast as I could manage, trying to understand what went wrong. She had a good pace, she hadn’t tripped. But at some point she realized that big sister was too far ahead, and mom was too far behind, and well….she was alone.
In reality she wasn’t alone. Until she sat down, there were about 20 other tiny humans running right along side her. But her people….where were they?
I scooped-up her tiny body in my arms, squeezed tight, and dried her tears. Then we made an agreement to finish the race together. My non-runner, pregnant self, jogged around a lake, right along side her. I guess that’s where motherhood takes you sometimes.
As we jogged, I found myself giving the most cliché pep talks.
As she turned to see who was behind her: ‘Don’t look back, keep going.’
As she was tempted to sit down and quit: ‘There’s a medal for you at the end, don’t give up!’
When she grew concerned about where her sister was: ‘Look! Your sister and all of our friends are cheering you on! Let’s finish strong.’
I know. So original… but again, I’m not a runner, so what do I have, but a pocketful of clichés? It almost makes me giggle. But it’s what she needed to hear. And in the end, it helped her finish the race and get that medal.
And as much as I want to laugh at my own words of wisdom, I couldn’t deny that the words escaping my mouth were actually pretty good life-tips, and even Biblical!
Apostle Paul: The Sports Writer
The apostle Paul grew up right next door to the original Olympic games. He was quite familiar with the scene of athletes, and the work they put in to win those prizes. And like many philosophers of his day, he loved a good sports analogy. You can learn more about Paul and his love for the games in the Bible Binge Olympics Episode. However, after taking a little run with my preschooler, Paul’s words held a little more meaning for me:
‘…Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize…’-Philippians 3:13-14
‘…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’-Hebrews 12:1
‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’-2 Timothy 4:7
Whether you are a runner, and want to share those joys with your little. Or you’re simply wanting to add a little extra activity to your rhythms, the below devotions can be a wonderful way enjoy running, and point your littles towards Jesus in the process.
1. Go the Extra Mile
Read: ‘And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.’ -Matthew 5:41 (ESV)
Pray: ‘Dear God, you are always with us during hard time. Help us to be there for others when they are in difficult situations. Amen.
Play: If you know of a charity run coming up in your area, see if they have a kids fun run! Raising money through a charity run can be a great way to experience Matthew 5:41 and let littles physically go the extra mile for those in need. If you don’t know of a charity run in your area, consider participating in the 30 Day Challenge with Venture Expeditions. This is a perfect family activity that will keep littles active while giving to a good cause.
2. Run for the Ultimate Prize
Read: ‘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 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)
Pray: Dear God, when it is hard to follow you, help us remember the reward that awaits us. Amen.
Play: Decorate your own medal as a reminder of the prize for following Jesus. Inspired by Catholic Icing.
What you need:
- Medal Template
- Sheet of Fun Foam
- Heavy Duty foil
- Dull Pencil
- Assorted colors of sharpies (optional)
- Key Ring Loop (optional)
What you do:
- Download, print, and cut-out medal template.
- Trace around template onto piece of foam. Cut-out the foam shape.
- Wrap foam in foil, being careful to not leave any unwanted creases.
- Lightly tape medal template onto foil.
- Trace the template with a dull pencil.
- When you are done tracing, gently cut tape to release template and take foil off of foam.
- You may leave the medal silver, or your child may color it with sharpies.
- Punch a hole in the top, and add the key ring so it may be placed on a ribbon and worn.
3. Don’t Look Back
Read: ‘I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’
-Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)
Pray: Dear God, help us to let go of our past mistakes, and remember that you have called us worthy to follow you. When we feel like giving up, help us to keep going. Amen.
Play: Go for a walk/jog today in training for your race, or in effort to complete the 30 day challenge. Do your best to keep going, even when it feels hard.
4. You Have People Cheering You On!
Read: ‘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.’ -Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
Pray: Dear God, thank you that we are never alone. You are always with us, cheering us on, along with our Christian brothers and sister, and those in heaven who have gone before us. When the going gets tough, help us to remember we have our own team of cheerleaders. Amen.
Play: Make a sign as a reminder of all the Saints cheering us on in heaven. You can use the printable sign below, or make your own!
5. Do Your Best and Finish Strong
Read: ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’ – 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)
Pray: Dear God, help us to follow you and keep our faith no matter what. Amen.
Play: There is nothing more iconic than running through the ribbon at the end of the race. Get some paper ribbon and write 2 Timothy 4:7 on it. If you are doing the 30 Day Challenge or another virtual race, have your child run through the ribbon to finish off the race. If not, simply set up a short running distance for your little and have them run through the ribbon! In the end it is not important whether we are faster or slower than anyone else. It matters that we are faithful to our own race, that we do our best, and that we finish strong.