My son, Sam Rainer, and his wife, Erin, ran in the Derby Festival Marathon a few days ago. For the uninitiated, a marathon is 26. 2 miles. For those of us who don’t run, that’s a lot of miles for one day. I think the last time my feet moved over 26 miles, three weeks went by.
Sam and Erin prepared for this day. Their training was disciplined and intense. Even with a ten-month old daughter, they worked regularly, oftentimes pushing the baby in a stroller as they ran. Bad weather rarely deterred them from their training regimen.
The Natural Man
Sam is by nature competitive. Whether he was involved in academics or athletics, he always sought to be first. Perhaps a better metaphor is he fought to be first. Winning is his natural desire. Indeed such a trait seems endemic with his brothers and me. We Rainer males can’t stand to lose. Even when we play Putt Putt golf, we are serious. The game is cutthroat. It’s not a pretty sight.
His wife is competitive as well. Erin has always excelled in academics and athletics. But for Erin winning is important. For Sam it is critical. His natural self just wants to win.
So I was really curious to see how this race transpired. I suppose Sam had the edge. If nothing else, he is six inches taller than Erin with a much longer stride. Erin had also given birth just ten months earlier. Would Sam leave her in the crowd as he sought a better overall finish in the marathon?
Much to my surprise, I learned that Sam made the decision to stay by his wife’s side the entire race. And as they approached the finish line, he slowed down for just a second. He told his wife to go ahead of him.
If you look at the statistics for the Derby Festival Marathon, you will find that Erin Rainer finished one place ahead of Sam Rainer. You will find that Erin Rainer finished one second ahead of Sam Rainer.
When the race was over, Erin sent a message over Twitter: “Thanks to @SamRainer who ran the whole marathon with me and even let me cross the finish line ahead of him.” She concluded the message with a hashtag that read, “rock star husband.”
Years from now, that Derby Festival Marathon will be a blur to Erin except for one item. She will remember how her husband put her first. She will remember how he denied his natural self and let the Spirit lead him to love his wife and to put her ahead of him.
Lessons for Me
I wish I were always that kind of husband to my wife. I wish I always put her before me. I wish I had consistently shown that sacrificial love.
Indeed, I wish I would always treat others that way. I wish I could learn the lesson with consistency that putting others before me is the path of obedience. It is the path of joy.
The son has truly surpassed the father.
Thank you Sam for teaching me yet another lesson.
Thank you for being the example I need to be consistently.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. (Ephesians 4:25, HCSB)
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28, HCSB)