Running on Encouragement

Steve Haley


Steve Haley


Feb 26, 2024

Running on Encouragement

They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

When our son, Timothy David, was in middle school he became interested in running track. As with most pre-teens, this time offered him opportunities to try various activities to see where his interests lay.

It brought a smile to my face when he came home one day and told me that he made the school’s cross-country team. Springfield Middle School had very competitive basketball and football teams, but Timothy seemed to have found his niche as a runner.  

As the track season progressed, Timothy and his team did well and were invited to participate in an end-of-the-season competition in my sweet, precious wife’s hometown of Lafayette, Tennessee. I was excited at the possibilities for the Springfield Middle School Yellow Jackets. In my mind’s eye I could picture them all standing on a makeshift podium receiving medals after the meet as their school’s alma mater played.  

The night before the final competition, one of Timothy’s best friends, Evan Farris, invited him to a sleepover. I would normally encourage Timothy to spend as much time as possible with Evan, but I felt he needed a good night's rest in his own bed. After his persistence, I acquiesced against my better judgment.  When I picked him up the next morning for the competition, he struggled sleepily to the car. He assured me he would be fine, and I chuckled.

After checking in at the meet’s registration, Timothy took his place on the mark. At the sound of the starter’s gun, he took off.  The pace was much faster than he was accustomed to, and I recognized the painful expression on his face. This race wasn't going to end well for my son.  

The cross-country course at Lafayette’s park was a long loop that had a roped-off area for the contestants to run in between.  The officials allowed spectators to walk to the midway point.  

Timothy had started the race in the upper third of the runners but by the midpoint, he had fallen back.  I stood talking to one of the other parents as I waited for him.  As Timothy approached, I shouted in my megaphone speaker’s voice, “Do your best, Son, and I will meet you at the finish line.”

His countenance momentarily brightened, and his pace quickened. The other parent also noted the change. I thought, “We all need encouragement.”

There was no Disney moment where my endorsement empowered him to overcome fatigue and finish the race triumphantly. Instead, he finished in the final third of the contestants. Rather than a medal, Timothy got a t-shirt that  advertised the event, one he too soon outgrew.

I bought him some juice and something to eat.  After a brief time, we talked about the things he could have done differently to improve his chances. I decided to let the sleepover pass unmentioned.  

Timothy and his wife, Laura, continue to run as a hobby. They also play in a couple of co-ed soccer leagues. On his 26th birthday, Timothy planned and ran in his first marathon. He and his friends plotted a course through downtown Chattanooga.   His 30th birthday will be in March 2024, and he plans to run 30 miles. I hope to be at the midpoint so I can offer my encouragement one more time, “Do your best, Son, and I will meet you at the finish line.”

Steve Haley spent his childhood in Guthrie, KY during the 1960s and 1970s. He loves to recount the stories of his extraordinary ordinary upbringing in a small Southern town with his many friends. If you have any comments or suggestions, you can email him at Setsof4Haley@ATT.Net or call/text him at 615.483.2573

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