I like the poem “The Race” by D. H. Groberg because it is so very applicable to all aspects of life, including mission preparation and mission life. We all fall down in the race of life: we make mistakes, and we fall into sin and error. But we all have a Father in Heaven cheering us on, encouraging us, and helping us to get up each time we fall. The Atonement of Jesus Christ gives us power to get up each time we fall, and as we do so God and the angles of heaven rejoice when we cross that finish line.
The poem “The Race” is posted here by permission of the author, Dr. D. H. (Dee) Groberg.
By Dr. D.H. (Dee) Groberg
“Quit! Give Up! You’re beaten!”
They shout at me and plead.
“There’s just too much against you now.
This time you can’t succeed.”
And as I start to hang my head
In front of failure’s face,
My downward fall is broken by
The memory of a race.
And hope refills my weakened will
As I recall that scene;
For just the thought of that short race
Rejuvenates my being.
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.
And fathers watched from off the side
Each cheering for his son.
And each boy hoped to show his dad
That he would be the one.
The whistle blew and off they went
Young hearts and hopes afire.
To win and be the hero there
Was each young boy’s desire.
And one boy in particular
Whose dad was in the crowd
Was running near the lead and thought:
“My did will be so proud!”
But as they speeded down the field
Across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win
Lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself
His hands flew out to brace,
And mid the laughter of the crowd
He fell flat on his face.
So down he fell and with him hope
–He couldn’t win it now–
Embarrassed, sad, he only 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 the 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 then he had quit before
With only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now;
I shouldn’t try to race.”
But in the laughing crowd he searched
And found his father’s face;
That steady look which said again:
“Get up and win the race!”
So up he jumped to try again
–Ten yards behind the last–
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought,
“I’ve got to move real fast.”
Exerting everything he had
He regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead
He slipped and fell again!
Defeat! He lied there silently
–A tear dropped from his eye–
“There’s no sense running anymore;
Three strikes: I’m out! Why try!”
The will to rise had disappeared;
All hope had fled away;
So far behind, so error prone;
A loser all the way.
“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.
“Get up and take your place;
You were not meant for failure here.
Get up and win the race.”
“With borrowed will get up,” it said,
“You haven’t lost at all.
For winning is no more than this:
To rise each time you fall.”
So up he rose to run once more,
And with a new commit
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 as though to 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 the winning runner
As he crossed the line first place.
Head high, and proud, and happy;
No falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster
Crossed the line last place,
The crowd gave him the 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 too well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said.
“You rose each time you fell.”
And now when things seem dark and hard
And difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy
Helps me in my 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.
“Quit! Give up! You’re beaten!”
They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says:
“GET UP AND WIN THE RACE!”