The countdown to the Olympics is over. Today the entire world sets their sights on London to watch athletes compete for the gold. I have to be honest. All this talk about the Olympics has really got me reminiscing of my sporty days. Bet you didn’t know I once had a promising athletic career!
I think it began with track and field. Way back in elementary school I tried out for running long jump and found out I was actually really good. In fact I came first in my school (You can shake my hand when you see me). So off I went to York University to compete in the Regionals. It should have been a proud day for me. Until they found out that our star athlete was being disqualified from the 400m relay race for competing in too many events. What’s worse…she was running anchor, which is the position reserved for the strongest runner. Rather than bow out of the competition our coach decided to put, in my opinion, the least experienced runner in her spot. That would be me. All I had to do was receive the baton and sprint across the finish line. I ran as hard and as fast as I knew how…and led my team to a dismal defeat.
We came in last…and that was the end of my track and field career.
Then there were my basketball days. I actually don’t like basketball at all. It completely goes against my sporting philosophy: never over exert yourself to catch a ball. It’s just not worth it. Somehow I still made it on the team…probably because we’re talking about grade 7, and I don’t think anyone gets cut at the grade 7 level. I actually have zero recollection of my life as a basketball player…except for one not so proud moment.
We were at the regional tournament. The opposing team was up at the free throw line. I was in position ready to take the rebound. Then, right before she threw the ball I decided I wasn’t standing in the right spot. No one told me you weren’t supposed to move until after the ball was thrown. So the ref blew the whistle on me. He called a foul…or a penalty…or yellow card….whatever it’s called it was so not my fault.
Basketball career ends there.
But there was always volleyball. Now that was a sport I knew I was good at. I was proud to be on the team and really felt like this was a sport that would take me places. Then I hit grade nine. I tried out for the team and was cut after just one tryout. Now I don’t mean to sound like I’m whining, but is that honestly enough time to judge someone’s abilities? One tryout? . That coach really made a wrong call. And so, at the ripe age of 14, I threw in my towel and decided that my life, as a competitive athlete, was coming to an end. I’ve played on lots of recreational teams since…but, it’s just not the same.
Despite the scars of a career gone wrong, I’m still really looking forward to watching the Olympics. I love watching the energy and utter devotion the athletes display…You can almost see their gaze focused on the one prize, and nothing, not even millions of spectators cheering them on, not the pressure, not even physical injuries distracts them from their goal. In fact it has been said that an Olympic athletes spend their entire lives training, preparing and focused on those precious ten seconds.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
2”Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection…” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27a
Over the next few weeks, as we sit before our television screens and cheer the athletes on, let’s meditate on the truth of how our Christian walk is much like the journey of an athlete. We too train. We work hard, face difficulties and setbacks, and endure. When you see the look of determination in the athletes’ faces, ask yourself, do I share the same determination in my Christian walk? Do we display the same courage? Resilience? Do we forsake all distractions for the sake of our heavenly prize? Do we work and sweat for the purpose of the Kingdom? I feel I have a lot to learn from these Olympic athletes. ….
But the believer’s story is quite different. We do not spend what seems like an eternity preparing for a moment that’s over in the blink of an eye. Our treasure does not rest on a mantlepiece. On the contrary, Christians spend what appears to be the blink of an eye, preparing for the joy, the prize, of an eternity with the Lord.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” . 2 Corinthians 4:16-18