THANK A TEACHER WITH A GIFT

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“The one who had contempt for instruction will pay the penalty, but the one who respects a command will be rewarded.”  Proverbs 13:13 CSB

Steve Prefontaine is someone who impacted my life, years after his death.  He was a runner for the University of Oregon from 1970-1973. He was coached by Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike.  I watched a movie about him over 20 years ago, which has never left me. Bowerman made Steve running shoes, using his waffle iron to make the rubber bottom.  I can vividly see the scene where he takes the rubber waffle off of the waffle maker and forms it into the bottom of a shoe. Steve had an illustrious career in running.  He competed in the 1972 Olympics, while training for the 1976 Olympics he set American records in every distance from 2,000-10,000 meters. He, along with several others, is credited with starting the “running boom” of the 1970’s.  But that isn’t why he impacted my life, he impacted my life because of his death, a scene from the movie I have never forgotten.

He had run a 5,000 meter race in a NCAA prep meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR.  Afterwards, he attended a party for the Finnish and American athletes that attended the meet.  A little after midnight on May 29th, 1975 he left to drive a couple of friends home in his MGB convertible. His blood alcohol level was 0.16, as I recall from the movie, people had tried to stop him from driving, but he wouldn’t listen.  Not long after he had dropped off his friends, his little convertible crossed the center line while going around a curve, jumping the curb and running into a rock wall, flipping the car. A nearby resident arrived quickly afterwards and found Steve alive, on his back, pinned under the wreck.  By the time the medics arrived he was gone. A bright future ahead, evaporated in a moment. If only he had listened when they told him not to drive.

We all are like Steve.  We all ignore valuable instruction from others.  Even more so, we ignore instructions from God. Rick Warren says, “You only believe the part of the Bible you do.”  He is not wrong, none of us obey everything in the Bible. We lie, we steal, we cheat, whether we admit it or not. White lies are still lies, taking pens from work is still stealing, and eating the cake when on a diet is still cheating.  We suffer the consequences of our sins, whatever they are. Steve suffered the consequences of his that night in the most dramatic way. Having contempt for instruction is easy when it doesn’t line up with what we want to do. Often, when God is giving us instructions, there is an element of sacrifice involved, sacrifice of self.  We have to make the decision, are we going to obey God, or are we going to obey self. Teachers are anyone in our lives that help us to grow, whether school, church or friends. A diploma isn’t necessary to be a teacher, but a heart for God and others is. Whoever has helped you grow in your walk with Christ, take the time to thank them today.

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