Lenny, and the Race that Changed Everything

I was in the stands of a track & field meet surrounded by a sea of athletic garb, when a man in a three-piece suit came in and sat down. He wore a cap and held a cane. All around me athletes pretended not to notice him. I stopped staring when the 400-meter special Olympic race entered the stadium. Each runner was escorted by a volunteer who held an elbow, or hand, or some kind of touch that gave them leverage and direction. It was then that this man stood to his feet and started to yell at the incoming runners.
“Lenny, Lenny, over here.”
I watched the runners, and none turned around right away, but then one slowly did. He was a good-sized adult, who seemed to have a preoccupation with his hands. Rubbing them over and over, he looked across his shoulder at the sound of this man’s voice, but couldn’t see where it originated.
The runners took their marks, and the man in the three-piece suit turned back around.
“That’s my son, Lenny. He’s in the race today, lane six right over there.” He pointed, and we nodded our heads, smiling weakly.
The gun sounded, and the runners were off. A few of them were quite fast, but not Lenny. He had a hard time getting started. The volunteer coaxed him forward, and then he began jogging half-heartedly around the first bend. The man in front of me never stopped yelling.
“Go Lenny, Go Lenny, you’re doing great.” He punched his arms in the air, as if willing his son around the track. Then he turned around again, and addressed us.
“That’s my son, Lenny! Isn’t he doing great?” We nodded, pretending to watch the race, but feeling uncomfortable. By now the other runners were coming down the home stretch promising a tight finish. But on the other side of the track, Lenny plodded on. It was obvious his large frame wasn’t used to running, and he kept rubbing his hands together. His father had grown quiet now, but not for a second did he take his eyes off the hulk of a man rounding the fourth and final turn.
The runners in front of us were greeted by the volunteers with back slaps and high fives, and polite applause from the stands.
“Go Lenny, Go!!!”
The father’s voice again jolted me back to the one runner still coming down the stretch.
“Lenny, you’re doing so well, son!!”
Lenny still had about eighty meters to travel, and now you could see his face, contorted in pain, sweat mingling with spit across his face.
Lenny, keep going honey, keep going, all the way…you’re almost there!!”
Then the father turned to us one final time.
“You see, I told you he would do great! Let’s cheer him in!!”
So, the crowd rose to their feet, coaxed by this father insistent to honor a son who was dead last, and looking more desperate by the moment. Lenny’s volunteer waited at the finish, inching forward. The entire side of the stadium now stood, and clapped and cheered as Lenny crossed the line.
In the excitement, I hadn’t notice that the father managed to get himself onto the track, and there at the finish, he hugged his son, kissed his face, and celebrated his achievement.
I sat down, dumbfounded. Then it was as though God Himself were sitting next to me, and talking. It was that clear.
“Do you see how that father loves his son? Watch him. That’s how I love you, without condition, and unabashedly!! You think you’re hot stuff, don’t you? But you’re a lot like Lenny. You’re in this thing called the Christian race, and you have preoccupations, and you drool on yourself, and most days if you were honest, you finish way behind the pack. But that hasn’t and will never change how I feel. Regardless of your place, or performance, I love you.”
The meaning of grace changed for me that day. All my life I had believed what you do matters most. I surrendered, literally in tears, to the One who has no agenda but a love received and a love returned.
The apostle Peter had it right when he said, “Once you were less than nothing: now you are God’s own. Once you knew very little of God’s kindness, now your very lives have been changed by it.” I Peter 2:10

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Ginnette Young says:

    love your writing!!! xo

    1. Jeannette says:

      I love Lenny’s dad! But I am so thankful that for those who don’t have a dad like Lenny still have the perfect dad in our Heavenly Father (that would be all of us :). What a beautiful reminder of His love and grace. Thank you.

  2. Carole says:

    What freedom is mine when I live in that kind of grace! It’s not about what I do, but who He is. Thanks for the reminder Kevin. Carole

  3. Jay says:

    Awesome post! Thanks.

  4. jaymanaz says:

    Awesome post! Thanks for the perspective.

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