Encouragement and Family Thoughts05 Feb 2006 01:12 pm

We have been working on a pinewood derby car, and when I say we, I mean of course me. It has been a frustrating experience, which when coupled with our previous pinewood derby history (we have mostly ran in the bottom 10% of the cars), left us with a general unease in the pursuit of this car. Rather than a bright, shiny finish, Thomas’s car would be a pale shade of green, which had been the color of a bathroom in a house some years ago. When I accidentally sliced a gash in the side of the car after it had been painted, it became character, not a mortal flaw for which it could not leave the house, nevertheless race. Our accepted motto this year had become – “Well, we can’t do much worse than last year”. But this was Thomas’s last race, and we still hoped that he would place.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the race. At the pre race weigh in, we had ran a respectable race, and the starter commented that the car looked fast. Like Charlie Brown waiting for Lucy to pull the football back, we took a careful wait and see attitude. On the way to the race, Thomas asked if he could pray, and he prayed a sweet prayer. Let his car do well, and he would love to place, and if he couldn’t then could one of his friends. No doubt there were lots of prayers being issued from cars yesterday by 8,9,10 and 11 year old boys.

I should point out that the other boys cars were amazing. Not only were they bright and shiny, but they looked like they were fast. It was as if they looked on the pale green wedge shaped car with disdain. “You cannot keep up with me, ugly green car” they seemed to say. We had our eggs solidly in the performance basket, for their would be no design prize today. Mom and Dad came, despite my Dad feeling sick. He must have felt as green inside, as Thomas’s car.

When Thomas’s car ran in the fourth race for the Webelos, he won first place. I liked to have fell out of my chair. Thomas meanwhile was estatic, but quick to compliment his fellow racers. After four years of slow cars, Thomas is a model sportsman when it came to losing. I was proud of how he showed himself as a winner. Thomas’s car raced 7 more times, and he won a total of four races, and placed second on four more occasions. Each time he raced though, his car was right in the thick of things, just barely getting inched out.

After the race when the finishers were being announced, Thomas was announced as Third place. We were thrilled. Long forgotten were the hurt feelings, as well as the piles of sawdust on the porch. Thomas had a winning car. His smile was worth every ounce of work we had put into the race. The years of slow cars, and disappointing finishes gave way to a smile that said in the end, it was worth the price.

A committe gathered at the scorers table, and immediately, I felt like Lucy had just yanked the football, and we were in that small sliver of time between knowing that we cannot miss, and coming to realize that in just a moment we are on our back with everyone laughing. Instead the committe had reviewed the scores, and Thomas had won second place. In the end, his car had been more consistent.

Reflecting on this day, I had so many glimpes of lessons from God. Hope to keep trusting Gods promises, the patience to be consistent in my daily walk, the joy God must feel at our happiness, and the true importance of our time were just a few of my observations.

Thank you God for loving me enough to teach me important lessons, and for the joy and love of a little boy, to share it with. Thank you God for loving parents who shared these same lessons with me years ago.

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