The Olympics are finally here!
My entire family really gets into the Olympic Games. Personally, I love the idea that for at least a couple of weeks every four years (two if you include the Winter Games in the rotation) the countries of the world can gather under one banner for healthy competition, rather than the geopolitical conflicts that so often fill our headlines. The Games mean many things to many people, but to me one singular moment from twenty years ago stands out as the quintessential Olympic moment.
Watch this short video of Derek Redmond in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games:
The eternal image of those Olympic Games was not national glory, the medals won or lost, the venue or the athletes themselves. I don’t even remember much else about that Olympics other than the USA Basketball Cream Team with Magic, Byrd and Jordan and that was not even much of a competition. What stands out to me is Derek Redmond, with his father cross the finish line well after everyone else. I remember watching it from my Aunt’s couch when we came out for a visit in Connecticut that summer. Redmond and his hamstring pain eliminating him from competition. His dad acting as his crutch to get him over the line. The announcer (I couldn’t find a video with Bob Costas) saying, ‘and that is the Olympic spirit.’ I think it is more than that.
“Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
In many cases the world has eliminated us from competition. We look like a bunch of losers, perhaps not even qualifying, perhaps limping along, tears of pain rolling down our cheeks. But fear not – your heavenly Father is here to help you get across the line. Lean on him and believe.
“Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
In fact the race has already been run on our behalf, and we are to follow where he has already run, even if our max speed is but a limp, a hobble, a loss by any other standard.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As you watch these games, as you run the race that is set before you, and as you help others by your extended support – stand strong, run hard, and limp with all your gusto – for you are never alone no matter how much it hurts. Ever.
“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)