The 2018 winter Olympics are upon us. I enjoy watching all of the competitions, so the next few weeks will be filled with watching athletes compete for a few short minutes for which they have trained for years, many since they were barely able to walk. Is it worth all the sacrifice? There is a lot at stake. They have to spend hours practicing and becoming physically fit. They have to watch what they eat, make sure they get enough sleep, find the right coach that they get along with and will also challenge them to their peak performance. These athletes in every moment of their days are striving for physical perfection.
Two of our daughters have taken up figure skating, and doesn’t every young girl who watches figure skating in the Olympics dream that one day she could make it? Once we got into the sport, we realized that the financial commitment was more than we could make. The time commitment forces the athlete to give up just about everything else in life. Yet, many willingly give it all up with the dream of being the best. They willingly sacrifice sleep and leisure for early morning practices and coaching sessions. Family life is centered on going to the gym, or the rink, or the hill. It is not just the athlete that sacrifices; it is the entire family.
Is it worth it? To some it is, and we watch their stories unfold before us and their Olympic dreams become a reality. To others we see their dreams crash around them in a flood of tears and waves of disappointment of being so close and yet so far away from the podium and the medal.
We all have the same amount of time. How is it we choose to spend it? We all have talents. How is it we choose to exercise those talents? How many times have we said or heard someone else say, “I could never do that, I’m not that talented”? Maybe you do not have the talent of figure skating, but you do have the talent of hard work, encouragement, or helping others. There are no gold medals for encouragement on this earth, but in heaven someday God will tell you, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23).
Delaney and I are studying I Corinthians, and this week we were in chapter 9. I have been pondering I Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” This chapter has metaphors related to athletes in a competition. At the original Olympic Games, a herald would call the athletes by name to line up and then read the rules so everyone could hear. Paul in I Corinthians is using this metaphor in this verse. As a Christian we need to maintain self-control over our bodies. We need to execute discipline in our spiritual walk with the Lord. If we do not, we end up being like the herald who after reading the rules, entered the competition only to be disqualified because he did not follow the rules.
The Christian life is not about the external rules that we must follow that get us to receive the ultimate prize-eternal life with God our Creator and Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit our Comforter. The Christian life is about living and loving from a right relationship with our God. This enables us to be self-controlled and disciplined.
The Olympic athletes did not become great overnight, rather they executed much self-control and discipline. When I meet Jesus someday, I do not want to look back over my life and regret. Rather, I want to see that the self-control and the discipline allowed me to lay at the feet of my Savior the prize that only seems valuable because I could give it back to Jesus.