Special Olympics and the Race of Life

Special Olympics and the Race of Life

As the parent of a special needs child, I have been a part of the Special Olympics for many years. Even though my child is too disabled to participate anymore, I sometimes attend just to watch the events. I especially like the races, and two of them stick out in my memory. They remind me of the race of life.

The first was a hurdles competition. Five runners had 100 yards of hurdles to navigate. The gun went off, and the racers all cleared the first four hurdles. They were pretty close together when one of them caught his foot on a hurdle and went down. He hit pretty hard, and immediately the other four racers stopped and ran back to him. They helped him up, hugged him, and then they all continued the race.

My other memory was a long-distance run with six runners who had quite varied abilities. One of the boys was much slower than the others, and they all lapped him. When they got to the finish line, they all “high-fived” one another. While they were doing that, the slow runner went by for his last lap. The other five runners moved toward the finish line, and as the slow boy came around the final curve, they began cheering. The crowd went nuts as he crossed the finish line.

The message in these two stories is so “Christian” in nature. Paul talked about “the race”` many times. In Hebrews 12:1, he said, “..let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, he uses the race as a picture of life. In 2 Timothy 4:7, he says, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race…”

Paul doesn’t say he won the race. He says he finished it. When I fall going over a hurdle of life, I need my brothers and sisters in the faith to help me get back on my feet so we can all finish the race. I do need to finish the race, and while I am not the strongest or the fastest, God has given me the ability to finish the race of life. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul wrote, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only but to all those who love his appearing.”

My special needs child and his friends in the Special Olympics have a better understanding of this than many of our theologians.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

You can learn more about Special Olympics HERE.