John 15:4, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me" (NASB).
Rick was born in 1962 to Dick and Judy Hoyt. As a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick's brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a "normal" life. Dick and Judy decided the opposite.
Instead they worked tirelessly for Rick's inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the work place. In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a five-mile bennefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all five-miles, coming in next to last.
That night Rick told his father, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped." This realization was just the beginning of what would become a race career including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (six of them being ironman competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick ran and biked across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in forty-five days.
In a triathlon, Dick will swim pulling Rick behind in a boat with a bungee cord attached to his waist. For the biking stage, Rick will ride a special two-seater bicycle. For the last stage, the running stage, Dick will push Rick in his custom made running chair. The 2009 Boston marathon was officially Team Hoyt's 1000th race. Dick was sixty-eight-years-old. What an accomplishment!
What was Rick's job in all this? Abide. Just abide in his father. Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me" (NASB, John 15:4). Jesus is the Vine. You are the branch. The branch's job is to abide, to remain connected to the Vine. All strength and life-giving power comes from the Vine.
How strong is your connection with the Vine? The truth is in the fruit. Are you growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If not strengthen the connection. The strength and power is in the Vine. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through him who gives me strength." Abide. Abide in Him and His love will carry you the distance.
Prayer: Father God, you provide a hidden source of strength and growth in Jesus Christ. The only limitation is our connection with the Vine. Help us to widen and deepen that connection so Your power and strength, Your nourishment and grace, flow through Jesus into us in such a way as we can run our race and finish the course. You provide all we need if we will simply abide. We abide in You Lord Jesus. In Your name, amen