The Olympians

The young Olympians competing in the London 2012 Summer Olympics (July 27-Aug. 12) can teach us a few lessons.

Frankly, I’m amazed and challenged by the dedication and physical stamina of these youthful athletes. If you’ve been watching, you’ve heard testimonies of their journeys. Many persevered against all odds. Some tell of previous Olympians who have inspired them.

It’s apparent that emotions run high in this highly competitive and pressure-filled arena. Tears of joy and pain erupt freely. Discouragement and exultation are displayed from one moment to the next. I hurt for the disappointed, and I rejoice with the victorious.

I was touched as I heard one young female gymnast give credit to God for enabling her to participate and have success. She spoke of the importance of her daily devotional time with God. Amid the cacophony of voices, her words refreshed my soul.

With the backdrop of the millennia-old Greek Olympic Games, the apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ESV). The winners of the ancient Greek Olympics would receive an olive wreath.

As Christians, our spiritual Olympians are listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, those who sought an imperishable wreath. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” writes the author of Hebrews, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith …” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

We are all in the race. Let us “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep.” Whether it be our brothers and sisters in Christ in our churches, TWR, other ministries or in the public arena, let us “encourag[e] one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Is there someone you can encourage to persevere today?

Photo Credit: Richard McMillan

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