Eyob Faniel was a good runner. And he was a “local boy” from Venice, Italy. But Eyob was not a great runner.
In the upcoming Venice Marathon he was a “nobody.” He was hardly any threat to a group of world-class runners who were favored to eclipse everyone else, especially guys like Eyob. Yet even though he stood no chance of winning, Eyob was there to do his best.
That’s a good attitude. For you never know what might happen while you’re “gutting it out” to make your best performance. It might just happen that the “favored to win” crowd meet some misfortune or disqualification.
Guess what happened? Sixteen miles into the marathon, a motorcycle which was guiding the group of six front runners made a wrong turn, misleading them and causing them to lose precious time.
Unaware of their misfortune, Eyob continued to push himself. He passed several more runners, determined only to do his best. He had no idea that he was now in the lead. He pushed himself even harder, intent on making his fastest time.
And he did it. He achieved his best personal time of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 16 seconds – nearly two minutes ahead of the second place runner. He was also overjoyed to learn that he had won the Venice Marathon. The “favored to win” runners weren’t able to recover their lost time and Eyob Faniel was declared the winner.
This sort of thing happens all the time. Just prior to the 1964 Olympics the heavyweight boxer who was in line to represent the USA was the highly rated Buster Mathis. At the last minute, however, Mathis broke a knuckle and an unknown, but very earnest boxer named Joe Frazier became his stand-in. Frazier went on to win the Gold Medal and later to become undisputed Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
Just think of the many actors who were so identified with their most famous roles, yet were not the first choice for those roles. To play the role of Han Solo in Star Wars, George Lucas’ first choice was Christopher Walken. Al Pacino was another favorite, as were Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase. For one reason or another none of them would or could take the part. Somewhere down the list of eligibles was an unknown actor named Harrison Ford. He became Han Solo.
For the role of Neo in The Matrix, the movie’s producer and director favored Will Smith or Nicholas Cage. For the role of Morpheus they wanted Sean Connery. But the top choices didn’t get the roles. Neo was given to Keanu Reeves and Morpheus to Laurence Fishburne.
This is why we should never count ourselves out when we become intimidated by the competition.
We should give our maximum effort to prepare ourselves, pursue that which God’s placed in our heart, do our very best, and let God decide the outcome.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Dear Father in heaven, please guide and direct my steps. Place within me the purpose, direction, drive, ambition, and confidence to fulfill Your purpose in my life and succeed. Amen.
The content of this article comes from “The Warrior’s Bible” (2014) and is copyrighted by Life Publishers International. Used with permission.
(Information from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/23/unknown-local-wins-venice-marathon-after-favourites-take-wrong-turn; https://www.enkivillage.org/10-actors-who-were-not-the-first-choice-for-their-most-known-roles.html; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/10095882/Star-Wars-Why-Al-Pacino-turned-down-the-role-of-Han-Solo.html)