“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Running a cross-country race is a significant event. Runners train and prepare, long in advance, for the 3.1 mile run. When the day of the race arrives, the runners take their place in line with many others. Sometimes there are close to 100 competitors. When the starter pistol is fired each runner leaps into action, fighting for their place along the trail. Although cross-country is, in part, a team sport – when the race begins, each runner is competing for themselves, striving to do their personal best.
In a cross-country race, doing one’s best is often defined by the time it takes to finish the run. However, for Sean Rausch, a high school senior running in the state championship, “best” was defined by his willingness to help his injured teammate. During the race, Blake Lewis fell 400 meters from the finish line when his leg broke. Sean Rausch was close and saw what happened. Sean immediately put his race on hold and rushed to his teammate’s aid.
Sean knew that Blake would not be able to complete the race on his own, so he bent down and hoisted Blake onto his shoulders and completed the last 400 meters. In an interview with the local TV station, Sean told them, “I kept telling him, we’re family, we’re a team, and we’re all in this together.”
Both boys were able to finish the race because of Sean’s actions. Sadly, both runners were disqualified due to the rules that state a runner cannot touch others during the event. Still, a great victory was achieved that day. Neither Sean nor Blake took home a medal, but they demonstrated a great lesson to all who were watching. There are far greater things in life than prizes at the finish line. As Sean reminds us, “We’re family, we’re a team and we’re all in this together.”
When we help others make it to the finish line – when we support one another in achieving our dreams – we all become recipients of an “Imperishable prize.”
– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship