If you are like me, you might be a little sleepy this morning. I have been staying up way too late watching the Olympics – waiting for the gymnastics to begin. What is especially silly about this is knowing hours in advance who already won the medals. Each time Simone won the gold, I saw it posted on Facebook long before the recorded event on television. But I still wanted to see her perform, to experience that moment of victory with her.
Am I trying to live vicariously through the Olympians?
Perhaps, a little.
Staying up so late sure isn’t doing much to perfect my game here at home, where the demands of my life are often more than I want to give. Especially when I just want another hour of sleep. Paul said, “Run in such a way as to get the prize”. But it’s hard to psych yourself up, knowing the only “prize” in my immediate future is settling the dispute over who gets the one in the cereal box today. Not exactly Rio, you know? Everybody wants the Copacabana life (how come Ryan Seacrest gets all the good gigs?), but, in reality, we are living Coco Puffs. <<<<We aren’t getting our faces on a cereal box anytime soon, either, if we keep eating that stuff.
So, how do we embrace our actual lives with the same spirit, discipline, and work ethic of an Olympian? Because one thing is for sure, we will need every bit as much drive, determination, and devotion to get there. Paul wasn’t being superfluous in using the picture of an athlete to illustrate the life of a Christian. He was, as always, dead serious. This is what I am reflecting on this morning in my bleary-eyed haze. I think it’s time to get serious about running this race “marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1), which I am totally planning to do as soon as I guzzle another pot of coffee and recover from my last night of Olympic coattail-riding. (Thank God, gymnastics is over!)
I say my calling is to “faith, hope, and love”. Not as tangible as gymnastics or swimming, but these are the fruits that last in God’s eternal Kingdom. I once heard a Bible study leader refer to these as the “trifecta” of the Christian life. I looked up that word, “trifecta”, which means “a variation of the perfecta in which a bettor wins by selecting the first three finishers of a race in the correct order of finish”. Kind of like betting on who is going to win the gold, silver, and bronze, but the trifecta is a term used more in horse racing. And like a horse, I must wear “blinders” to all the distractions and get focused on the track before me, submitting entirely to the every lead of the horseman who is driving me to the finish. Yes, I just said Jesus is our jockey, but I think the picture works. He knows the order of our victory: faith, hope, and love – the triple crown of the Christian life.
Last night, I heard Aly Raisman’s coach told her “she is stronger than ever” and should consider returning to 2020 in Tokyo. This is the same coach who wouldn’t even look at her when she came back to the gym and said she wanted to train for Rio 2016. Even he didn’t believe that Aly could get back to an Olympic level. My, my, how things have changed. Aly proved she still has what it takes to compete and win. I am grateful that we have a Coach who always believes in us, even when we doubt ourselves. He coaxes us out, back to the track, no matter how many times we’ve walked away. Jesus has set our race before us, carefully marked out the lines, and the order of finish. He knows exactly what He is aiming at, and, even more, He has the power to bring us all the way home. Champions of His grace – a prize worthy of our all.