As I prepare for Yom Kippur, I keep thinking about the video below about Derek Redmond. Derek was a British sprinter, who broke records and won gold medals. His most famous moment, however, came when he finished last place in the 400 meter semi-finals in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Midway through the race, he tore his hamstring and hit the floor. Instead of getting on the stretcher, he somehow stood up and began limping to the finish line in excruciating pain. The crowd rose to their feet to cheer him on. Then, one man jumped on the track and dashed towards Redmond. He came up behind him and grabbed his arm. Derek turned around to see his father, who hugged him and helped him finish the race.
The mistake we make on Yom Kippur (and in life) is that we see God as a stranger. We see him as a judge behind a bench or a king on a throne. While that is surely a role He plays, that’s not who He is. God is our dad. He is our father. He doesn’t sit behind a table, He stands behind his children.
Yom Kippur is a day when we realize that in the true race of life, the race of spirituality and true inner greatness, we sometimes stumble and fall. We are human and we fail. We let people down. We say the wrong things. We hurt others and ourselves. We are down on the track and are losing the race.
However, all God wants is for us to get up. To push through our emotions that have been holding us back all year and stand up. To take responsibility for our actions. To resolve to be nicer, kinder and holier. To commit to learn more about who we can be. To promise ourselves that this year we will push for more than material success.
Once we do that, once we stand up and limp down the track, we turn around and realize that He is right behind us. He is holding us up and guiding us to the finish line.
The true feeling of Yom Kippur is joy. It’s an inner happiness we feel when we exert ourselves to start down the right path in life and realize that the Judge, the King, the Creator of the Universe is really just our father helping us become who we deep down know we can be.
Here is a Derek Redmond video that someone sent me. It gets me every time I watch it.