The thrill of victory

The Standard July 22, 2021

Simone Biles. Nyjah Huston. Katie Ledecky. Noah Lyles. Megan Rapinoe. Caeleb Dressel. For the next few weeks many of us will be glued to the T.V. or internet, cheering on 613 Team USA members in Tokyo. We will see how their countless hours and years of training have led them to the most important competition of their lives. Undoubtedly, we will hear inspirational background stories of how these athletes managed to peak at precisely the right time, especially with the 2020 Olympic Games being postponed because of COVID-19. Perhaps we will learn of those who were at their best in the spring of 2020 but, due to injury or other circumstances, were unable to vie for a spot on the U.S. team this year.

As in every Olympics and World Championship there will be those who compete better than ever and those who succumb to an injury or have a bad performance. As we used to hear Sportscaster Jim McKay introduce ABC’s Wide World of Sports, there will be “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Hopefully, we will watch numerous World and Olympic records shattered and will enjoy witnessing some spectacular feats.

Our hearts will go out to athletes from across the globe who have pursued excellence in their sports at the expense of their social lives, free time, menu options and rest. Their dedication can serve as motivation. Although very few of us ever will become a world-class athlete or one of the top in our field, our commitment to Christ will result in an eternal prize which is secure and well worth our dedication. If we Christians lived spiritually with the kind of laser focus these Olympians have, imagine the positive impact we would have on those around us. If we trust and obey, we are assured of the ultimate victory, despite any ups and downs.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)   

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And 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)

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