The track meet of life

Posted: Dec 08, 2006 12:00 AM
The track meet of life

Each time they raise the bar, I hold my breath.

Just two inches higher makes all the difference in the world. Nick looks focused, tense and ready to take on the world as he sets his sights and energies on overcoming the new challenge.

For the last four years, I’ve spent most Friday nights on the edge of my seat at my son’s winter indoor track meets. And I love every minute of it. Nick is a senior now, and it makes my heart ache to think how few nights I have left to sit on hard bleachers eating cold pizza, writing columns (like I am now) on my Blackberry between his events, cheering for his friends (Chris, David and Ozzie -- also outstanding athletes and young men of great character) in their various races, and watching my son learn the value of healthy competition and grow in character as he experiences the exhilaration of victory and “the agony of defeat.”

Recently, Nick earned the rank of Eagle Scout. It was one of my most gratifying nights of this excellent venture called motherhood. It was my second time I felt the awe of one of my offspring reaching such an important milestone (our first-born son, Drew, earned his Eagle last year). After 10 years of concentrated work, rising to new levels and learning life lessons, my boys reached the peak under their loving father’s guidance. I am truly blessed to be the mother of these fine sons and the wife of such a committed husband and father.

Back at the track meet, Nick flies over the high bar at each new level. But he does so in other areas, too -- with his studies and in his real passion, visual arts. He works hard and excels at everything he does. Natural talent oozes out of him, and he pushes himself late into the night in the creation of fascinating and dazzling projects for his portfolio. Given that I can’t even draw a stick person and that my only physical ability is to “cut a rug” (sort of) on the dance floor every now and then, Nick’s talents in art and sports boggle my mind. He certainly didn’t get them from me.

My job as a mom is fairly straightforward. In addition to hopping up and down, screaming like a crazy lady with each effort and accomplishment, I must remind Nick that eventually, the bar will get too high. It always happens in the high jump, and it happens in the other areas of life, too.

Except one. The most important one.

The only area where there is no limit in reaching new levels is our relationship with God. And it also happens to be the only thing that is eternal.

How awe-inspiring that God places no limits on becoming closer to Him -- and that the riches that come with service don’t fade with age or time and can’t be lost or stolen.

It is critical to remind my son that our worship and service to God is often made manifest in our service to others. That the two greatest commandments -- to love God with all of our heart, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves -- are also the most personally fulfilling aspects of our lives, the blessings of which are far greater than the tarnished first-place medals from contests long forgotten.

The Bible teaches us, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48 NIV). It’s critical that Nick understand he is blessed in many ways -- he has natural-born talents not because he deserves or has earned them, but because God chose to grace him. Nick’s responsibility is to live his life to the fullest of his abilities, serving God and man above all else.

As the bar wobbles and crashes to the floor when raised just beyond the limit of his leap, may it serve to remind Nick that his true purpose in life is to soar in spirit, service and truth.