“But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.” (Emphasis on the word “comfort” is mine.)
Just read the story and saw the picture (see left) of Lance Cpl. Myles Kerr and his memorable run in the Jeff Drenth Memorial 5K footrace in Charlevoix, Michigan last weekend. He didn’t technically “win.” He came in dead last in his age group. But he is a true winner in my book.
When 9-year-old Boden Fuchs began to struggle in the race and then became separated from his group… he spotted the Marine. Boden asked Kerr, “Sir, will you please run with me?” Kerr agreed to run with him and stuck with him until he completed the race. Kerr finished at 35:43 minutes (five seconds behind Boden). He may have lost the race, but he won over many heart. The above picture received over 200,000 Facebook likes and was shared close to 10,000 times.
And what was the response of Kerr after all the praise? He sent out a tweet that read: “I was just doing what any man would do, but thank you!”— Myles M. Kerr (@Myles_Kerr)
Wow! His actions remind me of the NT virtue of encouragement. The Greek word is parakeleo. It comes from “para” meaning “alongside” and from “keleo” meaning “to call.” This strong and rich adjective can mean many things: comfort, exhortation, admonishment, instruction, teaching, begging, beseeching and, of course, encouragement. In the above verse from Ephesians, Paul sent Tychicus to parakeleo… to come alongside… the Ephesians. What an awesome word picture this is!
In fact, in the upper room, when Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit, he refers to Him as the parakeletos… often translated, the “Helper” or the “Comforter.” The Holy Spirit, much like the marine mentioned above, runs alongside us… exhorting us… begging us.. instructing us… comforting us… encouraging us… to keep running and to finish our race.
And if I am reading Ephesians correctly… it is a quality that we are to display ourselves. Like Tychicus, when we hear: “Sir, (or Ma’am), would you run with me?” we are to break off, adjust our pace to cadence, and help the struggling runner to complete their race. Not for glory or praise, but because it is what “any man (or woman) would do.”
Know anybody that needs you to run with them today? A teenager? A close friend? A widow? Come along side them… and let them know they are not alone! We are all in this race together!
And then realize that you are not alone either… the Comforter runs beside you… encouraging and leading you to the finish line and home!