If you love sport, this past summer has been heavenly. Even the expected failure of the England football team could not detract from the remarkable achievement of Chris Coleman and his passionate Wales team; the wonderful success of Andy Murray at Wimbledon; Mo Farah, Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and many others and their Olympic glory; and last but not least the Para-Olympic hero’s from Rio with many new and extraordinary stories being written.
Seeing the joyful face of success is inspiring, but the disappointed faces of those who do not achieve their dreams stay in our minds don’t they? Do you remember Barcelona 1992 and one of the most moving moments in Olympic history? Derek Redmond the British 400m runner and great hope for a medal reached the 150m mark narrowly ahead in his semi-final race; when suddenly, devastatingly, he fell to the ground as if he had been shot, having suffered a cruel hamstring injury. All those years of hard work, focussed on this one moment and now his dream was over. Despite the pain he struggled back to his feet and began to hobble around the track, determined to complete his race. At 200m a man ran from the crowd, it was his father. As soon as he recognised his Father he wept uncontrollably as they struggled towards the finish line to the cheers of a packed Olympic Stadium. Why not google Derek Redmond and you will find it hard to hold back the tears I assure you!
May I make a simple faith connection: this is such a vivid picture of what our heavenly father is like when we too are struggling; when everything seems to be going wrong, and answers seem difficult to find. Just as Redmond’s Father came to help his son, so our heavenly father stoops down to help us through the storms and struggles of our lives. He doesn’t force his way into our lives, but He comes as we invite Him. Yes we can invite Jesus to be by our side even as we read this article? Perhaps you think Jesus might help others but never you? As you ponder the question I’m sure this famous and much loved poem might help change your mind; ‘Footprints in the Sand’ by Mary Stevenson: ‘One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.” ‘
Alan Comfort, Rector