Losing a Race Helped Me Learn Some Valuable Lessons
Ability Isn't Always Rewarded
In my youth, before I became a devote Bible reader; I spent a lot of time in a very familiar school. A school attended by everyone in humanity. It doesn’t matter what your station in life is, you have attended this school. The school I’m referring to is the famous School of Hard Knocks. This is by far the most effective, and memorable education I got while growing up. I was stubborn, and hard headed in many ways; therefore I got pretty much my share of these hard knocks.
I remember learning a Biblical lesson when I was at summer camp, at the age of eleven. I still wasn’t a Bible reader, yet what I experienced was like something out of Ecclesiastes. In Ecclesiastes 9:11 it says: “I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race.” I actually lived that experience. It was summer competition time, at Camp Gregory, the camp I was at when I was eleven. One of the competitions was a running race. I was by far, the fastest runner in that whole camp. I could outrun anyone at camp, and at school even.
The race began, and I was, as I predicted, way ahead of all the other campers, but then suddenly, I started choking on my saliva, due to a new appliance my orthodontist had me wear. This appliance would cause me to not swallow correctly, and I would choke at times. I started to cough, and before I knew it, all the other runners had passed me by. I was only too glad, that it wasn’t fatal, since no one stopped to see what was wrong. As it turned out, someone else got to take home that beautiful trophy that could have been mine. I was greatly saddened, because I could not bring that trophy to my own home, and have the joy of seeing the expression of pride on my parent’s faces. As life would have it, my younger sister has earned about fifteen first place trophies for track, so I guess that evens things out, in a way. I want you to know, I’m very happy for my sister, she is a very gifted and lovely young woman. She is truly deserving of all her success. For the Lord blesses us all in different ways.
So I learned a valuable lesson that day. I learned that ability counted for only a part of our success in life. There are no guarantees of winning, even if you can beat the pants of everyone. If you examine Ecclesiastes 9:11 the whole verse is a follows "I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.” This rule does not only apply to the fast runners, but also to the strong, wise, skillful, and the educated. I’m not saying, it's a bad thing to be well educated, or to be endowed with some special talent. Many gifted individuals live very successful lives. What I am saying is that in life there are no guarantees. It says in proverbs 19:21 "Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand." Meaning that your success in life is ultimately determined by God.
I became a Christian, and Bible reader, in my early twenties. Because I began reading the Bible, a lot of my earlier life experiences started to make sense to me. I realized that God has a purpose in all our endeavors, even when we lose. The Bible made me see many of my own mistakes, therefore, I spent a little less time in the School of Hard Knocks. I learned to value losses, as well as winning. It says in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” When reading Romans 8:28, I realize that whether something is good or bad at the present moment; that is not important in comparison to its over all worth. That in good time, I will see the good purposes of God, that go beyond my present circumstances.
With the exception of that experience, I had a wonderful time at camp, I wouldn’t trade those two wonderful weeks for anything in the world. I’m glad, I lost the race that day. I learned valuable life lessons from the experience. Some of the best trophies are often the ones you can’t put on your mantle piece. Life experience is a wonderful gift, and in some ways a trophy. It is the type of prize that not only teaches us, but helps us to mature into productive adults. So next time, you find yourself having to do extra credit, for the School of Hard Knocks, be glad, because there will come the day where the experience will serve you in greater ways, than you could ever know, at that moment.