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 forever. ~ 1 Cor. 9:23-25
Trumpet blasts and resplendent flags heralded the onset of Olympic Challenges. I held my breath along with billions of international onlookers as the world’s finest athletes prepared to dazzle us. Years of relentless training shimmered from their muscles as they launched into marvelous sprints, leaps, and flips. My eyes widened with amazement at each impossible feat. Dramatic tension pervaded the competition. Media capitalized upon this pinnacle of athletic achievement. Reporters pummeled winners and losers with nauseating questions like “What thoughts ran through your mind when you won the gold?” and “How does it feel to have missed the mark?”
I enjoyed the spirit of unity and the beauty of observing excellence when the games began. But winning soon hijacked the focus of unity to morph the spirit of the games into meaner, uglier phantasms of criticism and superiority. Getting to the medal stand, plagued by interviewers.
As the week progressed, fewer athletes kept hold of joy. Cameras zoomed in on their teary eyes when grueling work failed to carry them to their goals. Lost hope flashed across billions of television screens around the world. Entertainment prevailed at the expense of compassion.
Some retained grace, regardless of their accomplishments. A handful of remarkable souls maintained their humility and offered thanks in all circumstances. These shining stars glorified a goal far higher than the medal stand. Though Olympic fame fades with time, their reward transcends mortality.
I will train alongside these athletes. Though I’ll never clear a hurdle, outswim a champion, or flip across gymnastic bars, I’ll strengthen myself toward superhuman achievements. My goals stretch higher than the gods of Mount Olympus. From Zion, my God calls me to press on to win the race. My heart must not falter. I must not grow weary in doing His work. Each day can afford greater perseverance in faith, greater endurance in hope, and more powerful mastery of love. My Coach models the perfect champion of this race and sets my standard. Through Him, I can become what no human could on her own efforts. He offers me immortal potential — faith, hope, and love beyond human ability.
Scathing reviews await me, just like they clawed at those with Olympic aim. No matter what the world sneers against me, He offers me greater grace. In this race, we need not fear losing our hope. All the glory will be given to the One who deserves it, and we will share the rewards in true unity.