How To Be Last and Finish First

“It’s been crazy. I can’t understand why everyone wants to talk to me,”  said Meghan Vogel. “It’s strange to have people telling me that this was such a powerful act of kindness and using words like ‘humanity.’ It’s weird. I don’t consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do.”

So, what did Meghan do that made her an overnight media sensation?

The 17-year-old Junior is a runner for West Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio.  On Saturday, June 2nd, she competed in State Track Meet at Jesse Owens stadium in Columbus for the 1600 meter title.   She won it with her personal-best time of 4 minutes, 58.31 seconds, beating her long time rival,Versailles senior Tammy Berger, to win the championship by less than 3 seconds.

But it is what she did in the next race that sets Meghan apart as a true champion in life, even though she finished in last place. 

With little time to recover, Meghan lined up for grueling the 3,200 meter.  After 3 laps into the 8 lap race her Mom, Ann, who is also her track coach noticed she was falling off the pace.  Ann said she just didn’t have the energy left to contend for another title.  At this point it was a matter of commitment just to finish.  And Meghan had never finished last in a race. 

As Megan rounded the last turn, she saw ahead of her a runner who was fading. This was her opportunity to pass her and not finish last.  However, with 20 meters to go the struggling runner, Arden McMath, collapsed.  Instead of running past her.  Meghan stopped.  Helped McMath to her feet.  Put Arden’s arm on her shoulder and helped her to the finish line.  But just before they crossed the line, with the crowd cheering wildly, Vogel made sure that McMath stepped across the line in front of her.  Arden finished 14th and Meghan last at 15th

The Ohio news media, as well as the national media, including ESPN, have swooped up the story.  The two girls met again Tuesday for an interview on Fox and Friends. Ann Vogel said she’s very proud of her daughter, and the response has been amazing. “People were coming up to us in tears and hugging both of us after the race.”

What a great example Meghan is to all of us.  In life, as well as in sports, there are times we see others struggling.  Fainting.  Falling.  Collapsing.  Not literally.  But mentally.  Emotionally.  Spiritually.

The Bible admonishes, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).  When a brother or sister is burdened down with sorrow, sickness or maybe sin, they need a helping hand.  A shoulder to lean on.  A concerned Christian to carry them to safety.

Too often it is very easy to run right past the one struggling as we eye our own goals.  Our own interests.  Our own successes.  After all, we don’t want to finish last, do we?  We would all do well to take a lesson from Meghan’s selfless gesture of sportsmanship.  As Christians, our Lord calls us to a higher level of living. 

“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few are chosen.”  Yes, indeed.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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