Last week I was driving through a neighborhood when I noticed a couple of kids playing outdoors.
That unusual sight in itself made me wonder if the electricity had gone out in that area or what other dire circumstance had pulled those youngsters away from their air-conditioned confines in front of television sets, computers, and video games. And no, they weren't simply standing outside talking, texting, or playing games on a cell phone.
What really got my attention in that passing moment was the boy who was posed on the driveway like a sprinter on his mark getting ready to run a race.
Since this took place in the middle of the airing of the Olympic Games, I assume that the boy was emulating what he had seen on TV. Maybe he had been inspired to dream of becoming a track and field star himself one day by watching some of the great runners at that event.
It took me back to my own boyhood aspirations of wanting to be like Dave Wottle after watching his performance in the 1972 Olympics. I could envision myself similarly clad in a golf cap staying near the back of the pack before coming from behind at the last moment to win the race for the United States.
Needless to say, I didn't follow through on that dream and never did any serious running.
But it reminds us that we all need people we can look to as a source of inspiration, not just in athletics, but in all aspects of life.
That includes people who inspire us to faithfully follow God. It's helpful to see people who exemplify what it means to be a Christian -- individuals who show us the possibilities and heights we can reach if we will truly seek the Lord and let Him have His way in our lives.
While we might want to take a moment to give thanks for those folks who have been such an inspiration to us over the years, let me ask a more challenging question. Are we living in such a way as to inspire the people who are watching us?
We don't have to be spiritual superstars up on a worldwide public stage in order to fulfill that role. We can be just what most of us are -- ordinary guys and gals wearing our golf caps and trying to keep pace in this race toward godliness and heaven.
We can inspire others by being faithful to keep running when so many around us are dropping out of the race. We can be an example, not by achieving a perfect score, but by getting back up after we fall, by not giving up when we seem to be lagging behind, and by steadily following our Savior day after day no matter what hurdles we face or how tired we get.
We can show others that it's possible to courageously stay true to God's Word and our convictions in an ever-changing and sometimes hostile world.
We can exemplify a spirit of love and compassion for those around us who are in need and neglected by much of the rest of society. We can model what it means to live a holy life in spite of all the temptations and pressures to do otherwise.
However, our focus doesn't need to be on trying to make ourselves an inspiration to others. It will just happen if we'll be faithful to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and let Him keep working in our lives.
So let's continue to run the race, and maybe we'll inspire others to join in and meet us at the finish line.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.