2 Timothy 4:7-8 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (NIV)
I can hardly wait for the Olympic Games to begin, because there's something very special about the Olympics to me. In fact, I've often dreamed of winning a gold medal, and then receiving the honour of standing on that platform as our flag was being raised and the national anthem played. That has to be one of the greatest feelings imaginable.
I went to high school in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, and I ran track during my junior and senior years. I wasn't very fast, but the coaches found that I could at least clear the high hurdles, so I became a part of the team.
From the day I joined the team, our head coach never stopped talking about a hurdler from a neighbouring school. His name was Rex Cawley, and I was told he was best hurdler in the state. Rex's school wasn't in our conference, so I never ran against him in a dual meet, but during my senior year, both of our schools participated in an invitational tournament. Finally, it was my opportunity to run against the great Rex Cawley in one of the preliminary heats.
The high hurdles race was only 120 yards long, and I'd like to be able to tell you that I won that race, or maybe even lost by just a whisker, but that just wasn't the case. He destroyed me! He must have beaten me by over 30 yards! That's when I realized just how fast he really was.
I lost track of Rex after high school, but several years later I turned on the television, and there he was, running the hurdles for the United States at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Not only was he running, he was flying over the hurdles. When the competition was over, Rex had won the gold medal and had that prestigious honour of standing on the winner's platform as the flag was raised and the national anthem was played.
I don't know what happened to Rex Cawley after those Tokyo Olympics, but he has a gold medal and lots of fond memories.
We, as Christians, haven't received any medals yet, but we will some day. We'll receive our reward: an eternal future with Jesus Christ. And one of these days, we'll be standing on a platform, and we'll hear our Saviour say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! … Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21 NIV) Then we will join the angels in singing, "Hosanna to the King of kings and to the Lord of lords." That will be greater by far than the honour of an Olympic victory.
Prayer: Our Father, we are so fortunate to have a Saviour who has attained the victory — the victory over sin and death — and who has prepared an eternal home for us. Thank you for that supreme sacrifice. In Jesus' name. Amen.