As a child I had many people that I looked up to.
I had read about George Washington Carver when I was only 8 years old. He was a scientist and an outstanding Christian. Then Mother and Daddy took us to his birthplace in Missouri, and we actually met a man that knew Carver. Since that time, I have read much about Carver and his life inspires me even today.
I also admired Roy Rogers when I was a kid. When his show came on the television, everything stopped in our family and we watched him. Roy always stood for right and it seemed that the bad guy never got away with anything when Roy was around.
I was so enamored with him that once I ordered a genuine Roy Rogers lasso from the back of a cereal box. It was 25 cents and that included shipping. But when I finally got the lasso in the mail, I was sure that Roy had at least touched it once.
Another hero that I remember was a champion. It was about the time I was in the fifth grade and when I heard her story it caught my attention. I can remember my parents talking about the 1960 Olympic games. Then, they were not televised like they are today so Americans depended on magazine and newspaper interviews to keep up with their favorite athletes.
At that time, Wilma Rudolph was a rising star. Rudolph, a little known young African American athlete, would make her debut during those Olympics. Born in Clarksville, Tenn., she graduated from Tennessee State University where she was a participant in the women’s track and field program. In the Olympics that year, Rudolph successfully won three gold medals. Then in 1961, she set the women’s world record for the 1,000-meter dash. This small town girl became famous overnight.
Sometime after Wilma won the gold medal, a magazine published an interview with her. In the article, the fastest woman in the world at that time stated what her perspective on life really was.
Rudolph used the second verse of the hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” by Frances Havergal, to illustrate the source of her happiness in life and her faith in God. She quoted the second verse of the hymn as her theme: “Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee.”
Then, she explained her faith in God that started as a small child and how she had experienced that faith in many competitive situations. She committed her talent to God.
What an impression that made on me as my mother told me about the interview with Rudolph. She was the best in the world in those track events; yet, Wilma viewed her extraordinary talent as a way to express her faith.
The writer of Hebrews said: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
The story of Rudolph modeled for me running the race in life with humility and faith in Christ. She was humble but determined. She held fast to what she believed, promoted good in her own life and consistently in the lives of countless others.
No matter where we go in life or what heights we may attain, the important thing is to endure the race by living out our faith. That will take us to the finish line.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: