He was fifth out of five racers to cross the finish line four hours after everyone else yet he received applause from a crowd that had waited in the cold to greet their American hero. His name was Fred Hartman, a 26 year old orphan from Boston Massachusetts, who had chosen to enter the 522 mile long Dogsled race of 1917. Sponsored by St Paul Winter Carnival, the race followed a brutal trail from Winnipeg Canada to St. Paul Minnesota and would last a total of 11 days, from January 24th to February 3rd.
Even though he was one of two Americans in the race he quickly became the favorite of his country gaining much support and admiration as he persevered onward. His story was closely followed by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Itasca Independent. However before the starting gun was fired it seemed that Hartman was destined for a difficult journey as his sled dogs got into a fight causing the death of his lead dog meaning he would now have to lead his team. While his opponents had the luxury to ride their sleds Hartman continued to guide his dogs, sometimes through waist deep snow and he even took the time to rescue a fellow competitor, Gunnar Tommasson, who had collapsed from fever. Lack of sleep, discouragement and frigid weather would have been enough to make anyone quit but not this tenacious young man, he was determined to finish the race no matter what obstacles were thrown his way.
I believe this is what caused these people to wait in the bitter cold for their "Iron Fred" ,as they had affectionally nicknamed him, to cross the finish line, though he was last. He had won the respect of a nation for his determination to overcome the impossible and finish the race.
Which is more important, your finished position in a race or how the race was run? I believe it is the latter. When God judges us He is more interested in seeing that you finished the race rather than knowing when you started. He does not consider the set backs, slumps or slips but rather did you finish strong? This is a winner, which by definition is a person who is victorious, this is what we are called to be and do, to live a victorious Christian life.
Sorrow, discouragement and stumbles are all a part of a race but they do not define the outcome. The apostle Paul testified to the countless obstacles he faced both within and without yet in his final letter to Timothy he could say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith", 2 Timothy 4:7.
I want to be a "Iron" Fred Hartman who does not let the discouragements of the race keep me from completing the course. I am thankful to those in my life who are on the sidelines cheering me on, picking me up when I fall and encouraging me when times are hard. May we all be that for one another so that when we stand before our God we will hear him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord".
I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.
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