Ryan did not want to do the Showmanship competition, but after a pep talk and prayers for both him and his calf, he headed into the ring. I was pleased to see him focused and concentrating on the heifer, as well as the judge. He was paying attention and had the calf firmly under control.
There was another boy in the ring who was clearly more experienced, and more confident, than Ryan. As the judge lined the children up by standings, the other boy was in first place and Ryan was in second. Since he’d only competed once before, I thought Ryan had done well, and I could see from his face that he was pleased.
Just before announcing the winner, the judge hesitated. Why was he waiting? He had the winners in line and he should be through. As I watched, I realized the boy in the first position was having trouble with his calf, which had become very restless. Abruptly, the calf tried to bolt and a struggle ensued.
Ryan never noticed. He was focused on his calf, gently stroking her belly with his show stick, and watching the judge. He had his calf, amazingly, under perfect control.
I saw a surprised look on his face as he began to turn his calf around. What was Ryan doing? As I glanced back at the judge, I realized he was pointing at Ryan and motioning for him to swap places. Ryan was moving into first place! What in the world was going on? I was shocked.
When the judge picked up the microphone to defend his placings, he explained that the boy who started in first had lost control of his calf at the last minute. Ryan, on the other hand, had persevered even when it looked as if he was coming in second. He never stopped trying, and it had paid off. He had won!
Later in the day, the judge commented to the crowd that he’d been watching Ryan ever since he entered the show ring. He told them that it was no surprise his calf had ultimately won Grand Champion, because Ryan never gave up.
It’s fun to win a trophy for persevering in the show ring, but God has promised us something better. James tells us the one who endures will receive the crown of life. When the trial you face seems too hard to endure, remember the lesson of the show ring. Keep your hand to the task with both eyes firmly fixed on the judge, and you, too, can come in a winner.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 NASB