Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
This is My Son
October 10, 2015
2ND IN A 5-PART MARATHON SERIES:
Sitting near the finish line of the New York City marathon that crisp sunny day in November of 2003, there is one particular image that is forever etched in my memory.
The official race had started that morning at 8:30am with the wheelchair division, followed 25 minutes later by those athletes with select disabilities. The next group would be the professional women and then the four waves of the masses (the first wave including the professional men), all spaced about 20-25 minutes apart for their start time. This meant that the first wheelchair finisher would be crossing the finish line right about 10am.
My old college roommate, Sabrina, and I had walked to Central Park, laughing and enjoying the unusually beautiful weather that day, arriving to our seats with a little time to spare before the first finisher rounded that last curve to the finish line. As I shared in the last blog, I was in for a surprisingly emotional roller coaster of a morning.
By noon, I didn’t think that my heart and soul could handle anything more, but God had yet another teaching moment in store for me. Official race people had handed us these blow up noise makers that you beat together as you cheer the racers on. Since the Boston Marathon bombing, I don’t believe that they allow these anymore. But that day they were in abundance, and you would experience this intensity of noise every so often as some particular finisher was going by.
By now I had cried full every kleenex and napkin that I could find and was resorting to the end of my shirt sleeves when the noise level soared once again. Looking up I saw an older, gray-haired man running and pushing an obviously disabled younger man in a specially made wheelchair. The younger man was sporting a smile from ear to ear and waving his stiff right arm in the air. The crowd noise rose to a feverish level as Sabrina leaned over to me and shouted, “That is Dick and Rick Hoyt!”
If you don’t know the two-man duo of Team Hoyt, I really encourage you to look them up sometime. Just be sure that you have some tissues nearby.
Rick was born in January of 1962 and because of a tragic twisting of the umbilical cord around his neck blocking oxygen flow, he was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. His parents, Dick and Judy, were encouraged to institutionalize Rick, assuring them that he could never live a normal life but merely be able to exist.
Dick and Judy would not give in nor give up. Despite Rick’s inability to speak or walk, they began to notice responses from him through his eyes. With the assistance of a specially made interactive computer, Rick was finally able to “speak” to his family for the first time at the age of 10.
The Hoyts discovered that Rick had quite an incredible personality and a sharp mind, and worked to allow him entry to public school at the age of 13. Two years later, Rick asked his dad if they could participate in a 5 mile benefit run for an athlete who had been paralyzed. Having never run as much as a mile in his life, Dick consented and pushed Rick in his wheelchair those 5 life-changing miles, and after hearing Rick’s words at the end of the race, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped,” their legacy began.
As of October 2014, Team Hoyt had competed in 1,118 events, including 72 full marathons and 6 Ironman distance triathlons. In 1992, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the United States, covering 3,735 miles in 45 days, the cycling portion completed on a bike fitted with a seat on the front for Rick to be strapped into. Their last full marathon in Boston was completed in April of 2014 when Dick was 73. And they aren’t stopping yet.
When I saw them that day in 2003, Dick and Rick were 63 and 41 years old and had been competing in races already for 26 years. I choked up as I watched that gray-haired man, exhausted and wringing with sweat, take a hand off of the wheelchair handle and without looking at anyone but the finish, begin to point at his precious son in the seat in front of him. All of the glory and the praise was meant for his son. He was the feet, but his son was the heart.
And I melted into another puddle of tears. Isn’t that what THE Father does? Look around you. Read your Word. EVERYTHING the Father does points you to His Son. Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through (Him).” (John 14:6 NIV)
Just as God the Father declared from the heavens at Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, “THIS IS MY SON” (Matthew 3:17, 17:5; Mark 1:11, 9:7; Luke 3:22, 9:35), can’t you just hear Him declaring that in your heart?
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.” (John 6:40 NIV) “No one who denies the Son can have the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.” (1 John 2:23 HCSB)
That day I was overcome with gratefulness that the Father could love someone as messed up as me SO much as to not only send His Son from the perfection and glory of heaven down to a fallen world, but that He would allow Him to die such an agonizing death in order that MY sins might be covered with His blood.
And even now He goes a step further and continues day in and day out to point me back to Christ. I pray that you allow Him to point you there too.