Ultimate Joy

Posts Tagged ‘Olympics

Great drama always comes boiling to the surface at the Olympic Games.  The 1992 Games in Barcelona were no exception. A British runner by the name of Derek Redmond had his sights set on winning his 400 meter semi-final heat and running in the finals.  About 250 meters from the finish, Derek’s hamstring snapped and he fell to the ground.  Medical personnel rushed over to help him, but he waved them off and grimacing in pain, got up and hobbled down the track desperately trying to finish his heat.

His father, seeing all this and knowing his son needed help, barged past security, ran down to the field, wrapped his arms around his son’s shoulders and walked with him to the finish line. Once Derek crossed the finish line, the crowd of 65,000 rose to give him a standing ovation.

In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul writes:  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (NIV) There are days when we all long to quit. When life becomes just too difficult, too painful to move. Yet, we pick ourselves up and we keep going. Sometimes, there are friends and family cheering us on.  They walk the entire course with us providing support, “Come on, you can do it!  Don’t give up,  you are almost there.”

But then there are other times when you look around and you are all alone. There is no one with you, no one at your side and no one cheering you on. Loneliness and discouragement set in.  It’s easy to give up on those days. We become so discouraged we lose sight of the finish line.

But rather than giving up, it is on those days, I need, we all need, to listen more closely, more intently to the still small voice of our Heavenly Father. Like Joe Redmond, Derek’s father, God is there to pick us up when we fall, there to hold us when we cry, hug us when we are lonely, cheer us on when no one else wants to take on that job.  Even more importantly, He loves us just as we are; whether we win the gold medal or are disqualified like Derek Redmond. (Since Derek was helped across the finish line by his father, this officially disqualified him.  Olympic records state he did not finish the race.)

Our Heavenly Father is cheering you on.  He’s saying, “Keep going. Don’t give up! You are never alone. You are precious to Me. You can do it. I will help you every step of the way.”

We need to pay attention to the times God whispers just how much he loves us and is for us. It is not a matter of whether or not he speaks these words to us.  It is always a matter of whether we listen or not.

 

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I admit it:  I’m an Olympic junkie.  For two weeks during the Vancouver Olympics, I sat transfixed in front of my television set watching sports that I only watch once every four years.  (Can you say “skeleton?”)

The human interest stories capture my attention.  The skater, Joannie Rochettte, who skated to a bronze medal despite her mother’s death a few days before the competition started.  The Georgian team performing admirably even after a team member’s tragic death.  Or the American bobsled team, who won gold at the hands of a driver suffering such severe eye trouble that he brought along his own eye doctor!

Every athlete participating in the Olympics has disciplined their bodies and mind.  Careful exercise routines and diets are laid out for them by their coaches.  They spend hours and hours practicing; beating response from their bodies because events are won or lost by fractions of a second or less than a point.

That dedication never fails to nudge me to be more dedicated, more faithful to God.  The Olympic athletes train years upon years, putting in hundreds of hours for the chance to shine on the world stage, to possibly win gold, silver or bronze.  But there is another reward even greater than those medals and I cringe in horror at the times when I realize I rarely match the time these athletes practice for a shiny piece of metal.

In II Timothy 4:7-8, Paul explains our reward.  He writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge – will award me on that day – not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Paul knows, just like the Olympians, that he has been in a battle, not against the clock or each other, but against Satan.  We are at war, but we also know the outcome.  God wins, Satan loses.

But what about us?  Sharing in God’s victory, we will receive the crown of righteousness if we remain faithful like Paul.  But do I work as hard as an Olympic athlete?  Do I pray daily?  Do I open my Bible and study it every day?  Do I always treat others with care and compassion?

Sadly, I have to say no to all of those questions.  Does that mean my crown of righteousness means less than an Olympic gold medal?  Definitely not!  It is just so easy to put off heavenly pursuits because the prize is unseen.  Yet, they seem so little to ask given the majestic glory of God’s heavenly kingdom.  Every day, I must remind myself that God will crown me with righteousness for what I exhibited here on earth.

The choices we make every day exercise our will the same way a treadmill exercises our muscles.  They determine whether we grow spiritually strong or remain spiritually weak.

I pray each evening that I can give a positive response to one very simple question:  “What have I done today that will make heaven different?”