Taking a brief break from my busy packing, I decided to watch some of the Olympics. I have to admit... I actually prefer the winter games. I like the figure skating, the skiing, the half-pipe snowboarding, and all sorts of good stuff. Still, the gymnastics the other night was impressive. (I might be more flexible... but then again, I'm made out of cloth and old stuffing, not bones and muscle.)
While sitting here blogging, I just saw Michael Phelps win his eighth gold medal in this set of games. I find that mind-boggling. Most athletes don't win one medal... let alone a total of sixteen, fourteen of them gold (according to the NBC newscast I'm watching). It takes dedication and perseverance to be the kind of athlete that Phelps is. Talent is involved as well, of course. (Obviously, I'm never going to be an amazing swimmer, no matter how much time I spend practicing in the nearest bathtub.) Still, a swimmer like Phelps is not merely talented. He is someone who has taken his talent to unimaginable heights, setting his mind on his dream, and giving an example to us that we would do well to follow.
The Olympics got me thinking about the way we are called to treat our lives and our pursuit of Christ. The Bible often compares Christianity to a race, urging us to give Christ the dedication an Olympic medalist gives the sport.
The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:24-25: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable." In Hebrews, the author also urges us to run the race of life in a manner honoring to God. Hebrews 11:1-2 reads, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
If we applied ourselves at following Christ the way Phelps and other Olympic athletes pursue the gold medal, what would the results be? If we would persevere through painful circumstances and trials the way an athlete still finishes a painful workout or picks himself up after a fall, how great would our faith be? If we would set aside sin the way Phelps and his fellow swimmers work to remove anything that would slow them down, how much richer would our walk with Christ be? We have a greater motivation than Olympians... we have an imperishable crown waiting for us when we complete the race successfully. We have a better, more experienced coach... one who loved us enough to give up His life.
Let me conclude with Philippians 3:13-14: "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
With love from an absolute doll,