Matt Woodrum is a fifth grader at Colonial Hills Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio. On May 16, the 11 year old, with Cerebral Palsy, participated in his school’s field day events. Matt had been given the option to sit out and watch, due to his disability, but he chose to enter and participate in the 400-meter race. His mother was at field day to cheer for her son and to film his running event.
The gym teacher, John Blaine, gave the signal and the race began. It didn’t take too many seconds for the other participants to run past Matt. As the other kids completed the race, Matt wasn’t even to the halfway point. Coach Blaine walked across the field and quietly began encouraging Matt as he walked beside him. It was obvious that Matt’s running was becoming more labored with each additional step. At times it didn’t look like he could take another step, but he persevered. Around the midway point, a few of Matt’s classmates began to notice that he was still running. They jogged over and began running alongside him. Before long, more and more kids from his class came over and began clapping and chanting, “Let’s go Matt, let’s go!” As Matt crossed the Finish Line, his classmates clapped, cheered, and gave him hugs. When interviewed by ABC 6, Matt told the reporter, “It was really encouraging. It helped me get through the rest of the race.” I am inspired by Coach Blaine, Matt, and his classmates.
I, too, continue to be the recipient of cheers of encouragement and helping hands. A few weeks ago I began physical therapy sessions. Along with the challenges, the therapist offers much encouragement and praise. On the third day, he said that I was going to start off on the treadmill. I laughed until I realized that he was serious. He said I could put on the harness, but he believed that I could walk without it. When asked what I would prefer to do, I responded, “Pray!” With his encouragement, I did walk on the treadmill, without the harness, for 15 minutes and 5 seconds! Since I am relearning how to walk, it takes much concentration and effort. Even though it is not at a fast pace, he has upped the speed gradually through these days of training. On Monday I practiced on the wobble board for the first time. I told him I thought I was already pretty proficient at wobbling, but he took it to a new level. On Thursday, I had an assessment to check my progress. On the 6 minute walk, I was a few yards shy of doubling the distance covered on the first day of testing. I also had positive results on some of the tests that I had not been able to do at the time of the first assessment. There were high fives and rejoicing in seeing a difference in the results of just a few weeks of training. I improved in some areas more than others, but now we know what needs to be the focus for the next training sessions. I will be working even harder in the weeks ahead to improve my balance.
Jesus also knew that we would need an encourager to be with us once he ascended into Heaven. “Thank you, God for sending us your Holy Spirit to encourage, convict, comfort and help us until your work on Earth is done. Please help me take advantage of the opportunities you give to encourage others.”
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17