Those of you who have followed this blog over the years know that it is my passion and goal to help others understand that as believers we are to be the glove on God’s hand in the world. There are times when I get caught up in the “doing” and forget that the whole idea is just “being” His glove. When I forget that, God brings me back to reality. On one occasion He used the inspiring story of Team Hoyt.
Team Hoyt is a remarkable father and son duo. They have competed in 1130 races from 1977 to 2016. It all began when Rick asked his dad if they could participate in a 5K benefit race for one of the students at his high school. Rick has cerebral palsy, so the only way for the two of them to participate was if his dad pushed him in a wheelchair. His dad, Dick, who was 36 when they started was not a runner, but he agreed to run that first race with his son. After the race was over, Rick communicated to his Dad, “When I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” That was all the motivation Dick needed to continue to race. Since then, they have participated in 72 marathons, 257 triathlons (7 of which were Iron Man), 97 half marathons and many, many other events. Their story is an incredible inspiration.
So, when God gave me the picture of this amazing father and son team I knew there was something He wanted to teach me. After some reflection on their story I finally asked Him, “Is that me, Lord? Am I Rick?” Without hearing a response, I knew that I was.
Rick is unable to walk or talk. Physically, Rick is not able to help his dad in any way when they race. In fact, he makes the race much harder for his dad. In triathlons, Dick tows an inflatable raft that is strapped to his chest. Rick rides in that raft as his dad swims. When they bike, Rick sits in a special chair that is mounted onto the front of Dick’s bike. And when they run, Dick pushes Rick in his wheelchair.
I said to the Lord, “If I’m Rick then I suppose that you’re Dick. So if that’s us and we’re a team… I’m not doing anything. Is that how you see me, Lord?”
Then the Lord asked me, “Was the father a runner?” I knew from their story that he was not. It was Rick who wanted to participate in that first 5K. And, it was through that experience that Dick realized what that activity did for his son: It made his disability virtually disappear. So, he began training as a runner, a biker, a swimmer and ultimately an Iron Man triathlete.
It was starting to become clearer to me. This father didn’t choose running so that he could win races. He chose running so that he could be closer to his son.
“Okay. So, it’s about connection. I get that, Lord. But Lord, the son… he’s not doing anything. Is that really me?” I asked again.
Suddenly the image in my head changed. It was a picture of Jesus and I standing near the south rim of the Grand Canyon. He was holding me as we looked at the gorgeous view. I wiggled from His embrace and picked up a small pebble near His feet and ran to the edge of the Canyon and threw it as hard as I could. Then I ran back near Him picked up another pebble and threw that in as well. Back and forth I went, excited and determined with what I was doing. Finally, I heard Him say, “This is what it looks like when you think you are ‘doing’ something for me. It’s like you’re trying to fill up the Grand Canyon with pebbles.”
I’m not sure why that seemed like a good idea to me, but that was indeed what I was trying to do. Then He showed me that the few pebbles that I had thrown were hung up on the rocks and bushes not five feet from where I had thrown them. None of them had been even close to their intended target. Every attempt I made was futile. Then He showed me the most convicting part of the image. Each time I threw a pebble, I was leaving His presence. I wiggled away from Him in order to “do” something for Him.
Finally, I was convicted. I saw what the Lord wanted me to see.
It’s about connection. Dick didn’t start training and competing with the goal of becoming a world class athlete. He began training and competing to connect with his son! Every drop of sweat has been to give his son a sense of true joy, delight, fulfillment, and purpose. It is not about racing… it is about being together. So our lives should be about being connected to the God of the universe. He doesn’t need us on His team, He wants us on His team. He wants to give us joy, delight and purpose by including us in His plan for us. He could run faster, swim farther, and bike a lot easier without us, but that isn’t what He wants. He wants to include us in His ventures in spite of us.
Just as Dick has sacrificed himself physically for his son, so God has physically sacrificed Himself for us. The physical pain and death His own Son suffered on a cross was so that He could meet us in the midst of our weakness, frailty and imperfections. His death and resurrection was so that we can be connected with Him. It is in our weakness and need for a perfect Savior that He is strong.
Finally, Team Hoyt is not known for their victories. They are known for their inspirational story, for their relationship, and for taking on life’s challenges together. This is how God is made known to the world that does not know Him. It is through our connection, our relationship with Him, and the way we take on life’s challenges with Him. It’s not about what we “do” for Him, it’s the strength of our connection with Him that will draw others to Him. We cannot, even with the best intentions, be focused on filling up the Grand Canyon with pebbles for Him. We must be focused on “being” with Him, remaining in Him. He will run the race. He will push, pull and carry us to the victory He has won for us through His death and resurrection.
Lord, thank you for the constant reminder that it is not about doing for You but about being with You. I am so grateful for your grace in meeting me where I am at and allowing me to compete alongside you in this world with You as my teammate. Bless the Hoyt’s, Lord. May others see You in their story and come to know You personally. In your Son’s precious name, amen.
Team Hoyt. (2017, December 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:05, December 29, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Team_Hoyt&oldid=813450733