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Run, Tami, Run Run, Tami, Run
    by John William Smith

    While I was living in Lubbock, Texas, a dear friend who lived in Dallas called to ask if I could pick up his wife from the airport. His daughter was a very talented runner and was to run in the regional cross-country championships, which were being held in Lubbock that year. I was delighted to do it, and so I found myself on Saturday morning witnessing the Texas Regional Cross-Country Races at Mae Simmons Park. I was there providentially, having had no plans or even thoughts about going until my friend called. I witnessed something there — a wonderful, moving something — a thing of beauty worth telling and retelling.

    It was a marvelously bright, clear, cool morning, and hundreds of spectators had gathered on the hillsides to watch. They were mostly parents and family members who had traveled many miles — in some cases hundreds of miles — to watch just one race. I had no child running, and so I often found myself watching those who did. Their faces were intent, their eyes always picking out the only runner they were interested in; and often, when the runners were far away and could not hear their shouts of encouragement, still their lips would move, mouthing the precious, familiar names — and one other word. Sometimes they would say the names softly, as if for no ears but their own, yet audibly — just because they loved to hear the sound.

“Run, Jimmy,” they whispered urgently.
“Run, Tracy. Run.”

    As the last race came to a close, I watched a forty-plus-year-old mother — wearing patent leather shoes and a skirt and carrying a purse — run the last hundred yards beside her daughter. She saw no other runners. As she ran awkwardly, stumbling — her long dark hair coming undone and streaming out behind her — giving no thought to the spectacle she made — she cried, “Run, Tami, run! Run, Tami, run!” There were hundreds of people crowding in, shouting and screaming, but this mother was determined to be heard. “Run, Tami, run! Run, Tami, run,” she pleaded. The girl had no chance to win, and the voice of her mother, whose heart was bursting with exertion and emotion, was not urging her to win.

She was urging her to finish.

    The girl was in trouble. Her muscles were cramping; her breath came in ragged gasps; her stride was broken — she was in the last stages of weariness — just before collapse. But when she heard her mother’s voice, a marvelous transformation took place. She straightened, she found her balance, her bearing, her rhythm — and she finished. She crossed the finish line, turned and collapsed into the arms of her mother.

    They fell down together on the grass, and they cried, and then they laughed. They were having the best time together, like there was no one else in the world but them. “God,” I thought, “that is a beautiful. Thank you for letting me see that.”

Now the gun is up and their race has begun.
    As I drove away from Mae Simmons Park, I couldn’t get it off my mind. A whole morning of outstanding performances had merged into a single happening. I thought of my own children and of a race they are running — a different and far more important race. A race that requires even greater stamina, courage, and character. I am a spectator in that race also. I have helped them train; I have pleaded — instructed — threatened — punished — prayed — praised — laughed — and cried. I have even tried to familiarize them with the course. But now the gun is up and their race has begun, and I am a spectator. My heart is bursting —

I see no other runners.

    Sometimes their course takes them far from me, and yet I whisper, “Run, children, run.” They do not hear, but there is One who does. Occasionally, they grow weary, because the race is long and demands such sacrifice. they witness hypocrisy, and there are many voices that call to them to quit this foolish race, telling them they cannot possibly win. They lose sight of their goal, and they falter and stumble — and I cry,

“Run children, run — O God — please run.”

    And then they come to the last hundred yards — how I long to be there to run beside them, “Run, Lincoln; run, Debbie; run, Brendan; run, Kristen.” What if I am gone and there is no one to whisper, to shout “Run” in their ears? What if Satan convinces them that they are not going to win? What if his great lie — that you must beat the others — causes them to allow defeat to settle over them? What if they lose sight of the great truth — that in this race, it is finishing that is the victory. That is why our Lord Jesus said at the last,

“It is finished.”

    And that is why the great apostle Paul said,

“I have finished my course.”

    Oh God, hear my prayer. If they cannot hear my voice, if I must watch from beyond this arena — dear Lord Jesus, as you have run beside me so often — please run beside them, and strengthen their knees that they might finish. And dear God, when they cross that eternal finish line, may I be there to embrace them and welcome them home. May we cry and laugh and spend eternity praising the grace by wich we were given this victory.

“Run, Tami -- run.”
 
From the book My Mother Played the Piano, by John William Smith, Howard Publishing, 1997. Copyright Howard Publishing, used by permission.

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About the Author...
John William Smith has been a preacher and educator for more than 40 years. He loves fishing and the outdoors, but mostly he loves telling stories that bring people closer to God.

 
Title: "Run, Tami, Run"
Author: John William Smith
Publication Date: May 5, 2000

 

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Excerpted from the book My Mother Played the Piano, by John William Smith, Howard Publishing, 1997. Copyright Howard Publishing, used by permission.
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