During a run on one of my favorite paths a few weeks ago, I happened to encounter a high school cross country team. It’s happened many times over the years. In the old days, I kept pace with the young and thundering runners. I even dared them to try to pass me. But in my current season of life, I only dream about keeping up with these brash and sturdy harriers.

On this encounter, the team members—both boys and girls—did an about-face when they saw me approaching. They had trespassed onto a private path and felt like they were caught. Off they went with extra speed, but I pushed myself to keep up. The runners in the front of their pack quickly sped away, but I nipped at the heels of the slower members of their group. Soon, each one of them pulled away and was out of sight. I used to be able to do that. In the old days, my tendons were strong. My muscles snapped back and forth with efficiency. My hamstring didn’t lock up if I pushed too hard. But now a new generation was running the race with vigor and strength.

As they should. It’s their time. They will make new strides and set new records. They will forge new pathways and discover the adventures that lie before them.

Similar thoughts filled me as I participated in the Beautiful Feet Conference at Concordia University Texas this year. 200 college students from Concordias across the country gathered for this mission endeavor. They served the community. They fellowshipped together. They listened to speakers, met in small groups and worshiped with one another.

As I sat with the group during their closing time together, I heard them expressing themselves in new ways. They spoke phrases of their own. They reflected their generation. This was their time.

As it should be. A new generation is running ahead of us—new people from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and times. They are entrusted with the gifts of God for the people of God. They speak the language of the time. They communicate the Truth in ways their generation understands. It’s their turn. We cheer. We support. We coach and advise—when asked. But we need to rejoice that God raises up new people to reach His world in new ways.

I caught up with the runners when they stopped to contemplate their direction at a fork in the road. I said, “Make sure you don’t walk that last tough hill.” A little bit of encouragement from an old guy. Then they took off.

It’s time for the new generation to run. Let’s cheer them on.

By Rev. Michael Newman