There are only a few days left in 2020. The finish line to the year is in clear sight. Reflecting upon the year ending, I am transported back in time half-a-century to the story behind the posted hazy photo. It was taken in 1970, my senior year of high school (Sanford Central High School). I was competing in the Southeastern 3A Conference Track Championships in Laurinburg, NC. I was attempting to win my third straight conference mile title. Standing in my way to a third gold medal was a runner from Raeford High School who, though he had never beaten me, always gave me a tough race every time I competed against him. I remember standing on the starting line beside him that warm spring day and looking at me and with fire in his eyes, he confidently said to me, “Today I am going to beat you.” I remember saying back to him with equal confidence, “All I can say to you is, ‘Good luck’!”
As the four-lap race unfolded, I was beginning to wonder if his prediction was going to come true. He stayed on my shoulder, never giving an inch and even briefly took the lead halfway through the race. We were both determined to beat the other. I could not shake him until the very end. Fortunately, I was able to outkick him in the last 150 yards for the win in a time of 4:31.3, my determined opponent only a long-stride behind in 4:32.4. As the photo reveals, the grimace on my face as I crossed the finish line is evidence he had taken me to the limit. While I was spent as I finished the race, I had gutted it out for the victory.
As 2020 comes to an end, it has extended us, taken us to the limit, but we are about to cross the finish line of this unprecedented year. The year may have dogged and pushed you to the limit, extended you to the edge of your endurance, and at times the grimace on your face looked as if you were going to suffer defeat, but you have made it. And as we gaze upon the starting line of 2021, it may declare to us, “I am going to defeat you.” But knowing you are gonna finish the tough race of 2020, look 2021 square in the eyes and confidently say, “All I can say to you is, ‘Good Luck’!” With only a few yards left in 2020, may the Lord give you the strength to run the approaching race of 2021 with confidence and guts! Keep running strong into the New Year. In Christ “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37)!
To all, God’s best in the New Year.