Eric Liddell: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.Our little Jemimah scooped the pool at last Wednesday’s Little Athletics Award Night: Under 8 Championship winner; first in the Under 8 age group; recipient of the club’s Best and Fairest Award, the Shirley Allen Perpetual Trophy ‘For the Quiet Achiever’. Yep, they’re all her.
Chariots of Fire 1981
We hadn’t expected it to be that way. Last year, despite a similar blitzing of all of her events during the Championships, she had come away with nary an award. That’s the way statistics work sometimes. She was dreadfully disappointed, and struggled to understand. She was not a very good sport either. It is hard to be gracious to your friend when she is holding YOUR trophy.
We’ve talked about awards night a number of times since that night twelve months ago. We’ve discussed regular attendance. Last year she lost out in the age group tally because we were away too many weeks. We discussed her need to run her hardest whether she was ahead of her peers or behind in a group made up of older kids. We discussed good technique, and she worked particularly hard at mastering the high jump roll and improving her shot-put. We discussed all the ways that she could improve her chances of winning the coveted Under 8 trophy. Most of all we discussed what would happen if it slipped from her grasp a second year and the need for her to be brave and gracious regardless of the outcome at awards night.
What we didn’t do was discuss the Shirley Allen award. That was just too impossible. You know, some kids are just good. They’re compliant, kind and happy naturally. They try hard to please. It doesn’t take much effort for these kids to tick off three or four of the Fruits of the Spirit just like that. Not so Jemimah. With our beautiful, intelligent, happy, witty, and incredibly strong-willed daughter, it all comes hard. It is all a battle.
We work on it. It is not a big deal, but it does mean that we were never going to even try to aim as high as the Shirley Allen Trophy. Best she could manage with effort; Fairest, no go, Flo.
Flash forward now to Wednesday night. As she hopped into the car she was determined: “If I don’t win, I don’t mind, Mummy, honestly. At least this year I know I’ve tried my hardest.”
It was a serious little face that looked down at her feet while the awards for the younger age groups were read out. When it came to the Under 8’s she didn’t even look up. Despite her words she clearly minded very much indeed.
First Prize: Jemimah Webb.
She didn’t even raise her eyes then. She hadn’t heard. Then she realised. I wish I had a photograph of that radiant smile. I have it in my memory though. She had won the gold medal.
By the time the major trophies were being awarded she was away with the fairies. She was so happy, so relieved. Then her name was read out again. Jemimah had won the greatest award her Little Athletics club offers: The Shirley Allen Trophy.
She’s won it for ‘always trying her hardest’; ‘for always being well behaved’; ‘for encouraging her peers’ and ‘for helping the organisers with the tidying up’.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. Truly. She’d actually done it. Our wild child.
Her Daddy and I were so incredibly proud of her. Still are, actually.
Winning the Under 8 medal was good. She is fast. Not as fast as Eric Liddell, to be sure, but faster than many. I am glad she won that medal, but I’m not especially proud of her for doing so. God made her fast; it wasn’t something she did herself. Sure, her added application and effort this year got her the gold, and she deserved it, but mostly it is how she is made. (Good genes? Hee Hee)
The Best and Fairest Award though, now that’s another matter. This one wasn’t all about her either. She didn’t make herself good. She couldn’t. None of us can. Jemimah won this award because God is sanctifying her. God is working in her heart. God is giving her the gentle and quiet spirit we long for.
He is changing her.
And people are noticing it.
That’s what we are striving for as we raise the beautiful, intelligent, funny and incredibly strong-willed daughter that God has entrusted us with for a time. We want her to be good. We want her to be kind. We want her to be well behaved. We want her to be smart and to be good at maths and reading and writing. We want her to win awards for being fast.
But most of all we want our daughter to come to know Christ as her Lord and her Saviour. We want him to be her King. We want her to set her hope in him and not forget his works. And we want him to change her heart.
On Wednesday night I got a little glimpse of the fact that he is doing exactly that.
And that’s why we’re proud.