There was a story in the news last week about two high school girls, Meghan Vogel, a junior at West Liberty High and Arden McMath, a sophomore at Arlington High. Meghan and Arden were both competing in the 3,200-meter race at the Ohio High School Track & Field State Championships. In the end, Arden and Meghan were the final two runners as the field ahead of them had all crossed the finish line. With just 20 meters left, Arden McMath’s legs began to give out. Her knees buckled and she collapsed to the ground. Meghan Vogel could have rushed past her fallen foe, a stranger she’d never met. No one would have blamed her for doing what she was supposed to do and running hard to the finish line, taking advantage of the opportune moment to save herself from finishing last. But instead, this happened:
The Vogel home has been bombarded with calls requesting interviews with Meghan in the week since her display of sportsmanship. Regarding the sudden attention on her act of kindness, Meghan Vogel says this: “I think fate may have put me in last place for a reason. It’s strange to have people telling me that this was such a powerful act of kindness and using words like ‘humanity.’ It’s weird. When I hear words like that I think of Harriet Tubman and saving people’s lives. I don’t consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do.”
I think the Church has something to learn from Meghan Vogel. Her beautifully selfless act reminds us that the Christian life isn’t about finishing first – it’s about finishing together. Carrying each other when we fall is what’s right, it’s what we’re supposed to do. Life is a marathon and the point isn’t to finish before everyone else. The point is to run well, with integrity, generosity, and joy. None of us will run this race without falling from time to time. Inevitably, we’ll all stumble here and there. And when we do, it is by picking each other up and carrying one another toward the finish that we’ll make the greatest difference. News reporters who were there to witness Meghan Vogel carrying Arden McMath to the finish line have written that the loudest cheers of the day, by far, were during those few moments. Some stories have noted that many in the crowd were in tears.
So as you run the race of life, be selfless. When others are fallen, help them up. When our legs are weak and our knees are buckling, share your strength with us and we will share ours with you. And as the world looks on, they will wonder about this peculiar group of people, devoted to a servant King who left his throne to love the least of these. The world will take notice when we live selflessly, sharing our strength, carrying each other. Their spirits will be lifted and their hearts will be drawn toward the King of this upside-down kingdom. And so in carrying another, you carry us all.