With the Olympics now underway in London every speaker and writer around the planet will be making reference to the event in one form or another. Athletes competing on a world stage for the honor of winning a medal and celebrating a unique accomplishment. When the winner stands atop the podium we’ll hear stories that fill in the background as to how they arrived at such a glorious pinnacle of achievement.
Some may thank God for their gift and talent, others may not. You can be absolutely sure that we’ll never hear this: “I prayed every morning for God to make me into a top athlete and then I went about my day. One morning I woke up and my muscles were strong and I was capable of performing at a level I’d never imagined with no training, time, role models or effort invested on my part.”
No one will stand on a winner’s podium who has not spent years, if not most of their lives practicing, learning, and pressing through pain barriers to realize their dream. Not a single athlete will have made it alone without the help of a team, a trainer, encouragers, and the confidence of those who believed in them. I’m not stating anything other than the obvious. In fact if someone randomly clambered down from the bleachers and was allowed to participate just because they ‘felt like trying’ – and won – we would never believe it to be true. We know what it takes to be an Olympic athlete.
The writer to the Hebrews used the example of an athlete when addressing anyone who wanted to be a follower of Jesus, not merely Olympic athlete types. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
While we laugh at the suggestion that an athlete could win a race by praying and no training, many who profess to follow Jesus are quite indignant when told that such a strategy doesn’t work when applied to daily life. We isolate ourselves, have no role models, shun training, consult with no coach, and seldom if ever show up for practice – and then wonder why we never make any progress. We even point fingers at God and others and question why we aren’t winning more races. We struggle in life, breathless and unfit, and declare that God doesn’t care or never seems real to us…. and nothing changes. Silly isn’t it?
As you take in the Olympics this year and marvel at individual athletes, consider their investment and dare to ask God to speak to you about your training program in his arena. There are things ahead of you that he would love to release in you that will take your breath away and thrill you with amazement. Don’t settle for the mundane and mediocre, get involved and see what is possible.
“Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” Roger Staubach
Here’s a tribute to the greatest feat in human history….