Iván Fernández Anaya, a Basque runner, was the champion of the 5,000 meter race for Spain in 2012. On December 2, he competed in a cross-country race in Burlada, which is located in the Navarre province of Spain. Towards the end of the race, he was in second place, but was still quite a distance behind the lead runner, Abel Mutai, who won the bronze medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As Anaya approached the finish line, he saw that the Kenyan runner had pulled up about 10 meters short, assuming that he had already crossed the finish line. Realizing Abel Mutai’s error, he could have raced past him, secured the win, and claimed the medal. Instead, using gestures, he pointed out the finish line and allowed the Kenyan runner to cross the line first.
When interviewed, after the race, Anaya stated:
“But even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn’t have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”
In my book, there were two winners of the race that day.
When encountering the unexpected, the results can be positive or negative. I definitely enjoy the positive ones more. In the past few weeks, I have been blessed with some unexpected happenings. In our Bible Study class, we have a prayer list. I had written a request for prayers for Chad on the Sunday that he was preaching at First Baptist Church of Gatesville and for the following week as Chad, his family, and the people of the church would be praying, seeking God’s will, and choosing the next pastor for their church. That week, as one of the couples in our department was driving through Gatesville, they stopped in the church parking lot and prayed for God’s will for Chad and his family and the people of the church. Then another man in our class was in the Gatesville area on Chad’s second Sunday as pastor and went to the worship service at church. And to add to that, Tim brought me a worship guide from the church service. This mother’s heart continues to overflow.
Jesus was constantly surprising people with unexpected responses – by forgiving rather than condemning the woman at the well, by giving Peter a mission and purpose after he had denied him, by associating with sinners and offering them new life… As followers of Jesus, may those we encounter come to expect the unexpected from us as well.
To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.Romans 12:3