By Richard L Spangler
Recently, I completed the challenge of walking the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon. I had never done anything like this before. It took two years of training and discipline, and a lot of support from family and friends, as well as mountain of prayer. So at sixty years old, this man who had a quadruple heart by-pass surgery seven years ago started the race.
What started as a personal goal two years ago, graduated to a 13.1-mile prayer walk for the seven cities of Hampton Roads, the Commonwealth of Virginia and our nation. If that was enough, I found myself saying thank you to the police officers, firemen and women and the rescue personnel along the race route. Many of these men and women had a surprised look on their faces and smiled and thanked me in return. Soon others, who were moving at the same pace I was also began to do the same thing. This was showing thankfulness and compassion to our first responders.
Somewhere, close to the half way point most everyone including myself became very focused on the race. Going down this wooded road with ditches on both sides a fellow race participant caught my attention. She had moved off the road and was holding on to the speed limit sign. I passed her but felt the urging of the Holy Spirit to go back. I asked, “Are you okay?” she said, “Yes” I started to walk away and hear the Holy Spirit say, “She’s NOT okay.” I went back and asked again. This time she said, “I am having problems keeping my balance and walking straight. Can I use your arm to get me to the center of the road and to steady me?” I said, “Yes. There is a water station just down the road, I will you get there.”
We got to the water station and she thanked me. Out of my mouth came “I Will walk with you some more to make sure your okay.” As we walked she began holding my arm again. I asked, a couple of times if she wanted medical help? She said, “No, she wanted to complete the race.” After a short distance she said, I think I need the paramedics. “As we came out of the wooded area there sat a rescue unit. I yelled for their help and they came over to assist the lady.
I finished the race about 20 minutes later than I would have but I still finished. As I thought about the day’s events, I realized that many running their race were so focused on their finish they missed an opportunity to show compassion to someone else.
We as believers are running our race for the prize of the crown of glory (1 Corinthians 9:24 and Hebrews 12:1) but we are also to run the race with compassion. Jesus was moved with compassion, Matthew 9:35-37. Matthew 14:13-21 the feeding of the 5000 started with compassion. And again in Matthew 15:29-38 4000 fed. Luke 7:11-15 The raising of the Widow’s son and Matthew 20:30-34 the blinds eyes opened, were done as Jesus was moved with compassion. Webster’s Dictionary defines compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
We as believers, we will finish our race but we need to be moved with compassion as Christ was. I believe our planned works for the Lord will earn us rewards. But, it is our unplanned acts of compassion, prompted by the Holy Spirit that we hear “Will done my good and faithful servant…”
Run your race and run it well, by keeping your eyes and ears open for acts of compassion along your course, so that you will not only finish the race but will hear “Well Done...”
©COPYRIGHT 2015 RICHARD L. SPANGLER