Graduate student Erin signed up to participate in a local 5K to raise money for a homeless shelter. An acquaintance from Erin’s Bible study also registered, but Angela found excuses not to walk or run. Instead, she signed up to hand out water at a relief station.
Runners whizzed around Erin and walkers passed her. The distance widened between her and other participants, but she didn’t care. She had been born with cerebral palsy and walked with crutches. Her goal was not to come in first, but to finish the race.
Erin soon approached Angela’s station near the first stretch of the race. When Angela saw her, she admired Erin’s determination and felt like kicking herself for not signing up to walk. She hadn’t worn the right sneakers, but, with water bottle in hand, she stepped out to join her friend on the journey.
With plenty of time for conversation, the college students talked a little about everything—grad school, Bible study, and cerebral palsy. “Her spirit was joyful the entire time,” Angela later said of her friend.
Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV)
Well over an hour into the girls’ walk, almost all of the other participants and volunteers were back home, the media had left the area, and organizers had celebrated a successful walk with a whopping $25,000 raised for the shelter. But two walkers remained steadfast on the course.
When someone alerted the shelter chairman that a pair of walkers were still on the course after two hours, Dee and her husband quickly returned downtown to check on them. When she saw that the girls were fine, she rounded up the few remaining volunteers to be Erin’s cheering squad.
The band hired for the event still played at a restaurant nearby, and volunteers who had waited patiently, cheered and thanked the two participants crossing the finish line. Shelter director Dee told someone she was reminded of Acts 20:24 (NIV):
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.
Erin began the 5K race making music from her heart, sharing her joyful spirit with Angela. Their attitude inspired the shelter chairman and volunteers, and soon there was a symphony of thanksgiving. The entire community was blessed when they read the newspaper article about the walkers.
With everything going on in the world today, it’s often difficult to be thankful and to share “psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” But when we make a conscious effort to obey God’s word in Ephesians and fill ourselves with the Spirit, then our joy can spill over to others.
Each day may seem like a new race, rife with obstacles. But with God’s help, we can lace up our sneakers and face the journey, one step at a time.
Despite any limitations or challenges you’re facing today, how can you give thanks in everything? What can you do to fill yourself with the Spirit and spread joy to those around you? Find a way to share music from your heart with others, and you just might create a symphony of thanksgiving and praise!
Copyright 9/2020 Julie Lavender, used with permission