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Today I attended an equestrian event to watch the showjumping. People from everywhere were competing with several special guest riders who were Olympic medalists also eventing.

However as I watched there was one young woman who caught my attention and impressed me more than the others. Her name was Sam and she was impressive not because she won or even placed in the top ten riders for the day. No, what impressed and inspired me about Sam was her sheer determination, tenacity and courage when under obvious pressure.

A horse is a powerful animal and in eventing situations with the crowds, noise, cameras and other horses all surrounding and bombarding their senses it’s not surprising some horses get a little anxious and highly strung. Such was the case with Sam’s mount today. Before even reaching the jumping arena Sam’s horse was having difficulties resulting in him repeatedly rearing, bucking and prancing skittishly around the warm up area close to where I was watching. Sam remained in the saddle, calmly and firmly quieting her horse until she could safely dismount. As I watched I wondered if she’d call it a day as her horse was obviously not happy. However that it seemed was the last thing from Sam’s mind. Upon checking her horse over from the safety of the ground she called for assistance and remounted and proceeded to the arena to compete. Once again her horse started rearing and being skittish but Sam held her seat, firmly pushing her horse towards the first jump and began to complete the course.

It was not a clear round, but every time her horse would refuse a jump, Sam would circle around and do that particular jump again; much to the applause and admiration of the watching crowd. I watched Sam’s face as she exited the arena to see if she would be upset by her difficult ride, but instead witnessed her beaming smile and enthusiastic patting of her horse as she rode past me.

Today Sam didn’t win or place in the top ten, and this wouldn’t have been her best ride. But I think she won in a different way, as she won me and many in the crowd over because she quite simply wouldn’t give up, displaying courage, calmness and maturity beyond her years.

Perhaps its not always in the so called Win; in coming first place, receiving the accolades, prize money, medals and all the other trappings of what we see as success that we learn the most, really win the biggest prize or where we reveal who we truly are. Perhaps the win is also in staying the course even when its difficult: in doing the best you can on any given day, in pushing through the test, not giving up under pressure, in completing your race and living to fight another day. Because as I watched Sam she did more than just win or lose a prize today. Many of us watching her today have never met her, yet we admired her tenacity, guts, skill and resolve, and today I remember she didn’t quit and I also remember her name.

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”. (Galatians 6:9)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. ( Philippians 4:13)

Prayer: Lord please help me to grow in my ability to stay the course and to win. Not only in the accolades of success but also in how I grow to win in my character, strength and who I am as a person. In Jesus name Amen.