The Boat Race

The Boat Race

In their shells ready for the race, the best rowers  from three colleges sat each in his place. A shell is a long, light, narrow boat. There were eight men in each boat and in the stern sat the coxswain who is the commander of the boat crew. The river was very calm with scarcely a ripple on its smooth surface. It was to be a long hard race. Along the banks stood thousands of people. Many of them had come a long distance to see this great boat race between these three colleges. Last year the winner had won the race by a small margin. The college bands were playing, and three different groups of students were cheering and encouraging their crews.

The time had come for the race to begin. The signal was given and they were off. The commanders in the stern were speaking to their crews through megaphones encouraging them to row in perfect unison. Each man held one oar. Eight oars in each boat dipped into the water in the same split second, and eight oars were lifted from the water at the end of each stroke at exactly the same time. The members of each crew had worked for weeks and weeks to be the best rowers.

The light boats split the water with great speed. At first all three boats seemed to be abreast. Gradually one forged ahead of the other two. At the halfway mark one crew was considerably behind. The coxswain of this last crew pleaded so anxiously and eagerly with his crew that they began to hold their own. His urging called out all their strength and skill. They crawled up alongside the second crew. Every nerve and muscle in each man was strained toward the goal. They passed the second crew. There was every chance that they could still win. They were nearing the goal. There stood a large crowd waiting to see the finish of this great race. They heard the familiar tune of their college song. Their fellow-students expected them to win; they could not disappoint them. Never had a crew worked harder or more perfectly. And the third boat slid over the goal line a few feet ahead of the other two. It was a hard won victory. Even the losing crews said that they had never been in a better race.

We learn from this race that we cannot always win in everything that we do. Two crews in this race were losers. But they tried hard to win and that is the important thing. It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. When we lose we must not feel sorry for ourselves. The losers in this boat race said that it was a good race. God does not want us to quit; he wants us to try again after we have failed.

Also each crew had to learn to work together. Every motion of their oars had to be in perfect harmony. Each man could row no faster or slower than the rest of the crew. They had to pull at the oars exactly together; they worked together. In school, in Church and at home we are the happiest and at our best when we all work together. We ought all to work together with God to make this a better world.

Every man in that race had to pull his own weight and a little bit more. It is that "little bit more" that makes the boat speed ahead. We must not only see that we get along well in life but we must do a little bit more; we must give help to those who cannot get along so well. There are many for whom we can make life a little bit easier. It is not enough just to live; we should help others to live better. That is what Jesus did.

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