Listen to this devotional:
Canadians rejoiced exceedingly on Sunday night when Alexandre Bilodeau became the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal on Canadian soil. It is amazing the dedication that athletes display over a period of four years (or a lifetime) to train and prepare for 23 seconds of glory. It's no wonder that the apostle Paul likened the Christian life to Olympic competition:
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 – 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 for ever. (NIV)
Although the privations of eyewitnesses don't compare with those of the athletes, there are also worthwhile insights to be shared from a spectator's point of view. For this particular event, spectators were bussed to the venue, three hours before the qualifying round, and then they had to wait two hours for the final round, and another hour and a half to be bussed back. My son David managed to get a standing room ticket to these same Men's Freestyle Moguls. His objective, stated in an e-mail to his family beforehand, was to appear on national television. He stood for nine hours, and because the line-up at the food concession stand was an hour and a half long, he had so little to eat and drink that he got a massive headache. The first payoff was that he was a participant in a great upsurge of patriotism and excitement at Alexandre's Canadian win. The second was that, dressed completely in red, a maple leaf emblazoned in full view on his chest, and a scarf reading "CANADA" held high above his head, his exuberant, wide-mouthed, full-screen image was chosen by the television editors as part of the closing montage for the event, to the great delight of his family! His proud dad immediately sent it out to dozens of family and friends, and told the story to all. He got home near midnight, exhausted, hurting, but happy beyond belief!
What can we learn from all of this to aid us to live as Christians?
1. My son didn't anticipate so many difficulties; often, we don't expect hardships in our Christian walk either. But we are warned that "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God". (Acts 14:22 KJV) Even Christ went through much suffering for us, so that our sins could be forgiven. When we know that the reward of faithfulness in trial is entrance into the eternal presence of God, that makes it worth it all. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)
2. Somehow, we Christians must pray for the boldness to display our love and loyalty for Jesus our Lord as prominently as fans and patriots do for their teams and their countries. Jesus warned us, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." (Matthew 10:32-33 NIV)
3. As proud of my son as I was, when we repent or when we are successful in bearing witness to our love for Jesus, how much more proud of us our heavenly Father must be! Jesus told us, "There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10 NIV) Someone has said, "If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it." I could add, "If God were on the Internet, your picture would be on his Facebook page!"
Prayer: Lord, we thank You that Your Word holds up athletic competitions as an example for Your sons and daughters to model their faithful Christian lives upon. May we learn from and apply the principles of athletic dedication, to Your cause, in enduring hardships for You and Your glory. Help us never to be ashamed of our allegiance to Your kingdom. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.