Exchanging ashes for beauty…

Who can resist the powerful story of an overcomer?  Deep inside their struggle we find our own.  We all have giants in our lives but they fought and slayed theirs.  Their stories remind us of how frail we are, how weak we would have been in their position and we are inspired by their triumph.   Their victory becomes our victory.  This is why I watch College Game Day.  For the stories of the overcomers.  Their stories remind us that the struggle is part of the journey and for some, the struggle is all they know.  They’ve never known life without endless practice hours, continual try harder years, the countless sacrifices that yield little to no “pay-offs”, all while you watch them come to the heart wrenching realization that others don’t have to work as hard and reap the rewards of the thing they are still chasing to achieve.  Overcomers realize life is never going to be “fair” and press on.  No, they fight on.

It’s Rudy.  The best overcomer movie of all time!  On paper it’s confirmed that Rudy’s struggle is against the “enoughs.”  He’s not tall enough, big enough, smart enough or wealthy enough to play football for the mighty Notre Dame.  The only thing that was enough was his heart.  In an effort to improve his grades he attends Holy Cross for two years then he was accepted into Norte Dame after his fourth try.  Next, he wanted to get on the team.  Against all odds he earned a place on the Notre Dame scout team but no one of significance in his life believed that he was really on the team because they never saw him on the field.

Finally, in his senior season, he gets to suit up for one game.  One.  All those innumerable hours earned him one game…not to play, mind you…just to put on the uniform and run out of the tunnel.  But that was enough for Rudy.  It would be proof that he made it.  With his family in the stands, Rudy not only comes out with the team but gets to play the final 2 plays of the game.  With the crowd on their feet, the stadium begins shouting, “Ruuudy, Ruudy!”  At the snap of the ball he rushes forward and sacks the opposing teams quarterback to end the game.  He rides out on the shoulders of his team mates and will be penned in the Notre Dame Football stat chart with one entry beside his name: A sack.

An overcomer story is inspiring because we know how it ends.  But what if we aren’t to the end?  What if this future overcomer is your child?  This is my story…she is my overcomer in training.  As a parent we recognize that this is not our battle but we wish it was.  As a parent we recognize that the world is an unfair place but we wish it was.  So what do we do?

We cling to the One who has overcome this world and we make it our duty, our responsibility and our privilege to bring our overcomers-in-training to the Master.  And we remind them of who He is.  He is the unshakeable God.  He is the great I Am.  He is perfect in all His ways.  He is truth.  He is life.  He has chosen each of us, created each of us, and will continue His perfect will in us until He returns.  He makes no mistakes.  His value is not the world’s value.  We must remind ourselves and them, that there is beauty in the pain, that there is joy in the midst of struggle and that when our “moment” comes we will see His continual faithfulness.

“To all who mourn in Israel

He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes

A joyous blessing instead of mourning

Festival of praise instead of despair

In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks

That the Lord has planted for His own glory!”

Is. 61:3

When our child suits up and runs out of the tunnel He will be shouting, “Beloved! Beloved!” and we will be witnesses to the most beautiful overcomer story our hearts have ever seen.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and never lean on your own understanding.  In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” Ps 3:5-6

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  • Cheryl - October 15, 2015 - 6:32 pm

    Oh, Marianne, this is beautiful! I, too, have an overcomes-in-training (or two or six), and I understand. Isaiah 61:3 is one of my favorites. Thank you for this.ReplyCancel

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