Lessons from a One-Legged Runner

Terry Fox was just 18 when doctors discovered bone cancer in his right leg. They amputated his leg six inches above the knee. After undergoing chemotherapy and seeing others who suffered with cancer, particularly children, Terry decided to make a difference. Fitted with a prosthetic leg and supported at first by just a few friends and family members, this brave young man set out to run across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research.

Terry began his Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980, in St. john’s, Newfoundland. When a recurrence of cancer ended his cross-country run at Thunder Bay, Ontario, on September 1, 1980, Terry had run 3,339 miles in 143 days, roughly the equivalent of a marathon every day. After a courageous battle with the disease he had worked so hard to defeat, he passed away in June, 1981.

This would be an amazing enough story if it had ended there. But it doesn’t. Participants from around the world keep alive Terry’s dream of curing cancer with the Terry Fox Run held annually in 52 countries. In the years since Terry passed away, participants have raised more than $350 million for cancer research around the world.

James R. Miller said, “It is a great deal easier to do that which God gives us to do , no matter how hard it is, than to face the responsibility of not doing it.” For each of us, God has an appointed task. Sometimes that seems a task too daunting and a calling too high. “Who am I?” asked Moses, Joshua, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and any honest man.

From Terry Fox’s story one resounding truth demands our response – God’s highest calling on each of our lives is to do something that will be here when we’re not. Anyone can do something that makes a difference for a day, a week, or even a year. But to do something that outlives us is our highest calling.

A squirrel in a tree was watching his buddies who had fallen into a lake. None of them could swim. As he saw them struggling just a few feet from the shore, he jumped into action. Running out to the far limb hanging over the lake, he jumped into the water, landing close to his friends. While he knew he would drown, the ripples caused by his splash would be just enough to wash the others to safety.

God wants each of us to make a splash. Don’t be content to only do that which is so insignificant that you can see the results yourself. God has a great opportunity out there for you. To leave the safety of the branch may be the hardest thing you will ever do. And the lives you will touch, the effect of the splash, may be something you never see.

You have two choices: safety or significance. Follow the lead of Terry Fox. Do what the squirrel did. Why? Because there are a lot of people, many you have never met, who are depending on you. It’s time to make a splash.

Note: No squirrels were actually hurt in the telling of this story.

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