“Get up and win that race!”

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in Blog, Gary | 16 comments


As I was listening to a friend’s story to help him find the vein of gold that runs through his life, I remembered a poem that a mentor gave me years ago.  I thought that God had brought this to my memory for my friend’s sake, but I later discovered it was also for me.  Maybe, primarily for me.

Because it has been so meaningful to me over the years, I want to share it with you.  I’m unfamiliar with the author, but the story he tells is a beautiful picture of our struggle in this world, a race as Paul describes it, and our loving Father.

As you read this poem, keep these scriptures in mind:

  • Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  (NLT)
  • Hebrews 12:1,2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
  • Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)
  • Philippians 1:6  Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (NIV)

The Race by D. H. Groberg

Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,

my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.

A children’s race, young boys, young men; how I remember well,

excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn’t hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win that race

or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.

Their parents watched from off the side, each cheering for their son,

and each boy hoped to show his folks that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they flew, like chariots of fire,

to win, to be the hero there, was each young boy’s desire.

One boy in particular, whose dad was in the crowd,

was running in the lead and thought “My dad will be so proud.”

But as he speeded down the field and crossed a shallow dip,

the little boy who thought he’d win, lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself, his arms flew everyplace,

and midst the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.

As he fell, his hope fell too; he couldn’t win it now.

Humiliated, he just wished to disappear somehow.

But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,

which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win that race!”

He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all,

and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,

his mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.

“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”

But through the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face

with a steady look that said again, “Get up and win that race!”

So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.

“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”

Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight, then ten…

but trying hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently. A tear dropped from his eye.

“There’s no sense running anymore! Three strikes I’m out! Why try?

I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought. “I’ll live with my disgrace.”

But then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.

“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “you haven’t lost at all,

for all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.

Get up!” the echo urged him on, “Get up and take your place!

You were not meant for failure here! Get up and win that race!”

So, up he rose to run once more, refusing to forfeit,

and he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.

So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,

still he gave it all he had and ran like he could win.

Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.

Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.

They cheered another boy who crossed the line and won first place,

head high and proud and happy — no falling, no disgrace.

But, when the fallen youngster crossed the line, in last place,

the crowd gave him a greater cheer for finishing the race.

And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud,

you would have thought he’d won the race, to listen to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”

“To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”

And now when things seem dark and bleak and difficult to face,

the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race.

For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.

And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.

And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face,

another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race!”


16 Responses to ““Get up and win that race!””

  1. I needed this poem so much. I’ve been so disappointed in myself for the choices made and what I’ve to deal with now. I’m asking the question” lord what do you want to be for me right now? Thank you!!!

  2. I was the only under 10 year-old that knew how to swim butterfly so they made me swim with Marty Zimmerman. I lost in practice and meets to Marty and sometimes others until 8th Grade. Then Marty lost to me in the Dirstrict Championship Meet. I reached my peak at that momemnt, and it was empty. I continued to swim in a high school that never saw a swimmer before me. I swam at a division I school and smashed records of long standing…not very fast in today’s world but it was pretty good then. I wish I had heard this poem growing-up. Thank you for sharing it now. I am beat up right now, and it helps.

    • David, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “It’s not where you are in the journey that matters, it’s what direction you’re moving.” Let’s help each other move forward, even if we occasionally slide back a bit.

  3. Jerry LInd says:

    Yes, a very good encouragement, for sure.

    I have a grown son who has taken on several Iron Man competitions that I have been privileged to witness. Before each race started, I gave him a “I love you…go do it!” hug and said these words: “No matter the outcome today, son, you are already a winner just for showing up here at the start line! You’ve done the work to get here and no one can take that away. Well done! Now, have a good race!”

  4. Once again, your story telling has me undone. I was so down and out yesterday about where I am in the race, feeling so disappointed that it lead to depression and discouragement, even as God has crystallized my markers on the path he has set me on during the days prior.
    Then this. It really spoke to me and reinforced this thought. I have to get back up and keep running on this path, because it is the one He has set me on to run.
    Thank you and Bless you Gary!

    Christopher W

  5. Great picture to keep the right/hopeful perspective.
    I try to hold on to 2 Timothy 4:7(NIV):

    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

    I hope that will be said of me someday.

  6. Bill Redd says:

    When I read the subject line I immediately thought of this race:


    Thank you for this poem and the reminder of those powerful verses.


  7. A poem for all ages! Wonderful. Timeless. Thanks, Gary!

  8. Scott Wilson says:

    Gary, I’m starting a new job tomorrow. I needed to read this. So much disappointment in my career. I will not quit and it will turn out great! Thank you

  9. Thanks, Gary, we needed to hear this message today. Yes, there is always hope with the Lord. He will fight for us and redeem the time we lost due to our mistakes, but we cannot give up and we WON’T.
    Thank you for your relentless efforts and encouragements for keeping fellow men in the race. You are a solid, honest voice who tells the truth and helps us to face it in our disappointments, in our troubles, in our failures. You are blessing far beyond you can imagine! We honor you!
    For life to the fullest!

  10. Thanks for sharing this, Gary. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since you posted last week. So incredibly helpful in where I am right now.

  11. Wow,“To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”… thank you for sharing this poem and words! Deep breath, moving forward ….

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