Faith Puts Others First

Well, I lost the Turkey Trot again.  I lost to a third grader. Now to be fair, he is very fast and very competitive. I have been ribbing him since he beat me last year. Last year, I dove for the line and lost; this year he dove and won. Life is not fair.
The Head of School gave me the job of running at the front of the pack for the Trot for the last two years, a job that several other adults in both the church and school and could do easier than I could. Coming in the middle and end were far stronger runners, so why am I out front?
This is one of the mysteries of following Jesus: our job as disciples sometimes means coming in second, and not just to Jesus. 

We strive for excellence. We do our very best. And sometimes we lose because the other person is more important to us than winning. As I watched this boy striving and reaching it gave me a joy that I didn’t know as a kid. 
As a runner, I always wanted to win. I ran myself into the ground more than once striving to be the best. I ended my track career with a severely torn hamstring at the end of high school. As I dove off the track that day it was because I had pushed for the win beyond what I could do looking for an importance I was never going to find in a race. 
Paul uses the image of a race in his second Letter to Timothy 4:7, "I have run the good race, I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” The faith here isn’t just a set of things to believe. It is a way of life that flows from what we know and believe about God, Jesus, ourselves, and the world. 
That faith puts others first, and eventually as we are faithful, we begin to experience joy at watching others succeed, even when we do not.
As we come to the end of this year, let us give thanks for other people’s wins, gifts, and victories. As we become the kind of people who cheer others on, our joy is greater, our faith is deeper, and all our races are wins.