The day was August 19 and the man was Yohann Diniz*, the world record holder for the 50km walk race.
As the sun blazed overhead, Yohann held a comfortable lead and a gold medal seemed imminent. Suddenly, the cameras caught Diniz struggling, his belaboured steps and the blood trickling down the back of his thigh confirmed that all was not well with the Frenchman. He soldiered on, the competition inching ever closer.
Around the 36-kilometer mark, Yohann just couldn’t take it anymore. Viewers around the globe watched as he collapsed to the pavement, a victim of a terrible case of ‘runner’s diarrhea’. The commentator pronounced his fall as “the end of it”.
But the athlete had other ideas.
In a little while, he was back on his feet and got on with the race. It was a struggle from then on but he didn’t quit. He. just. kept. going. Remarkably, Yohann Diniz still finished in a respectable 8th position, just six minutes behind the gold medallist, Matej Tóth of Slovakia.
Quite a story, right? Now, I have a ridiculous question for you.
Why didn’t Mr. Diniz return to the starting line after his collapse? Why didn’t he go back?
I know the thought sounds so ridiculous, you wouldn’t want to dignify it with a response, but stay with me.
If the thought of an athlete returning to the starting blocks after a fall sounds completely unreasonable, why do we feel the need to hit restart when we make mistakes?
Pause. I’ll wait while you read that again.
Why do we feel the need to pay for our wrongs by forfeiting the progress we’ve made up to that point? Must we prove remorse by letting garnered gains slip?
God has worked in you. Scratch that. He is work-i-n-g in you, changing your tastes and desires to converge ever closer with his. He has given you a new nature, a new heart and every day, as you expose yourself to His thoughts in studying and meditating on His word and in the place of prayer, you ARE changing.
But guess what? On that journey, you won’t always be perfect, you won’t always get it right. Yes I said it. You won’t always get it right. Anyone can argue all they want but I’ll just ask that they look in the mirror and tell me if the person looking right back agrees.
You won’t always get it right, but you’re on a journey. A journey initiated by the Father, who knows better than any of us ever will, that the expression of the work He’s done in us will demand loads of learning and unlearning and yes, an abundant dose of corrections and grace. He knows this. But do we?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating a flippant attitude towards mistakes nor the hardening of our hearts as we abuse God’s grace by leaving his instructions while leaning on His mercy and grace. No. Because truth be told, posts like this can be quickly misinterpreted as a license to do what you’ve never needed a license for anyway. I understand that risk and I make no attempt to trivialize it.
But the truth must go out.
He saved you.
You may fall. But He’ll pick you up. He’ll keep you from falling. He’ll dust you off and send you on your way.
But please, do not head back to the starting blocks. Run your race. Don’t restart, don’t settle, and yes, don’t stop. From where you are, from where you fell, get up and go on. He’s holding your hand; don’t let go.
*Not the photo shown
Live by Design.
Image Credit: Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash