Summary: If we are in Christ, we are never alone; we are not, and can never be, orphaned.

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No Orphans in Christ

May 1, 2005

John 14:15-21

2458 words

15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.

17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18 "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.

19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.

20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

Derek Redmond was a young British runner who sky rocketed to fame by shattering his country’s 400-meter record at age 19, but then an Achilles tendon injury forced him to withdraw from the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, and he endured five separate surgeries. When the Summer Olympics arrived in Barcelona in 1992, Derek Redmond was absolutely aching for a medal. On the day of the semifinal races for the 400-meters race, 65,000 fans streamed into the stadium. High in the stands was Derek’s father, Jim, a faithful witness to every one of his son’s world competitions. According to ESPN, Jim was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Have you hugged your foot today?”

The race began. Derek broke through the pack to seize the lead. Heading down the backstretch, only 175 meters from the finish line, Derek seemed a shoo-in to win this heat and qualify for the Olympic finals. But then Derek heard a pop. It was his right hamstring. He pulled up lame, looking as if he had been shot. His leg quivering, Derek began to hop on the other leg. He got slower and finally fell to the track. Medical personnel ran toward him as he sprawled on the ground, holding his right hamstring.

At the same moment, there was a stir at the top of the stands. Jim Redmond, seeing his son in trouble, was desperately working his way down toward the track, sidestepping some people and bumping into others. He had no Olympic credentials. He is not supposed to be on the track, but all he could think about was getting to his son, to help him up. He was absolutely single-minded about this, and was not going to be stopped by anyone.

On the track, Derek realized that his dream of an Olympic medal was gone. He was alone. The other runners streaked across the finish line. He was orphaned, as it were, a lonely figure on the track, friendless, parentless and alone.

Tears poured down Derek’s face, and all he could think was, “I don’t want to take a DNF.” “DNF” is runner’s jargon for Did-Not-Finish. Derek could not stand the thought of having DNF written beside his name at the Olympics. When the medical crew arrived with a stretcher, Derek told them, “I am not getting on that stretcher. I’m going to finish my race.” And so, he lifted himself to his feet, ever so slowly and carefully, and he started hobbling down the track.

Gradually, the crowd realized that Derek was not dropping out of the race. He was not limping off the track in defeat, but was actually continuing on one leg, in a fiercely determined effort to make it to the finish line. One painful step at a time, each one a little slower and more agonizing than the one before, Derek limped onward, and the crowd began to cheer for him. The fans rose to their feet and their cries grew louder and louder, building into a thunderous roar.

At that moment, Jim Redmond reached the bottom of the stands, vaulted over the railing, dodged a security guard, and ran to his son — with two security people running after him. “That’s my son out there,” he yelled back at his pursuers, “and I’m going to help him.”

Jim reached his son at the final curve, about 120 meters from the finish line. He wrapped his arm around Derek’s waist. “I’m here, son,” Jim said gently, hugging his boy. “We’ll finish together.”

Derek put his arms around his father’s shoulders and sobbed. Together, arm in arm, father and son struggled toward the finish line with 65,000 people cheering, clapping, and crying. Just a few steps from the end, with the crowd in an absolute frenzy, Jim released the grip he had on his son so that Derek could cross the finish line by himself.

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