It was his. Anyone there would have told you that. He had not lost a meet all season. His warm up throws were further than 90% of his competition. Almost weekly the school records were falling with every throw of the discus. His closest competitors were 20 feet behind him on their best day. It was his. A second state title in the discus. But more - the state distance record was easily in view. He had already thrown almost 20 feet past that mark.
It was his with only an average day. Average -that's all he needed.
But average didn't happen. throw after throw sailed well past the competitors and well past the state record, but out of sector. No mark. No mark. No mark. No mark. No mark. Only 1 throw in play and it was well behind an average day throw. On the final throw of the day his closest competitor threw his best throw ever and won the day by inches. It was crushing. As a parent, you hurt for your child. I am not sure anyone there believed what had just happened. Robby was devastated.
But that was only the first event of the day. He still had shot put to throw. And the competition in shot put was much stiffer. Would he enter the ring defeated? weak? broken? He had 20 minutes before the second event started. Robby had never been in a situation close to this. No one knew how he would respond.
He picked himself up. He checked into the event. He warmed up. And he threw bombs! He threw over 53 feet and killed it! He won the state championship for the second year in a row. That was amazing, but what made it most amazing was how he did it - how he overcame a fall and failure - and with confidence moved forward.
"That's the way grace and faith works", that's the thought that has filled my mind in the days following the State meet. For those of us who love Jesus and trust in his redeeming work, for children of God this should be the picture of our lives, lives of faith.
We all fall. We all fail.
I have counseled dozens of people who have had had really big falls and failures. I always ask them, "So what will you do now?" Because that's what matters now. In Christ our failures, our sins are forgiven. Truly forgiven. Fully forgiven. The punishment for that sin has already been taken care of Jesus - Jesus handled that on the cross. His love, His work on our behalf, His mercy and grace are not outdone by our failure. No sin is bigger than the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. That means that when we turn from our failure and fall, and turn to Him, it is finished. We are forgiven.
So what will we do now?
Robby could have been overcome by his fall. He could have let the loss crush him. He didn't. When we fall, we have the same choice - be crushed or believe the good news of God's grace and move forward. Wallow in self defeat, or believe that your Father loves you and holds nothing against you.
I told Robby, as he sat in the grass, dejected, "This is not your end. Its not over. Get up and finish." That's the message of Grace and Forgiveness in Christ - this, whatever failure or fall that it may be, is not your end. His lovingkindness is new each day. Believe. And then get up and finish. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, with awe and amazement, for it is God who works in you.
Robby started training the very next day for a meet in Albuquerque, New Mexico and another in Greensboro, North Carolina. His eye is even further down the road as he watched the Conference Championship numbers for Southern Miss. What happened, happened. But that day, those 6 throws were not the end and they certainly do not define Robby. Neither do your failings. Jesus has called you to more. He has secured you with his blood. You are His. Not a failure, a child of the King. Loved. So believe. Get up and finish.