Move Over, Bode

With the winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia, nearing their grand finale, you have to admit—the herculean efforts and protracted training endured by these young athletes of the world is astounding. And it’s not like they were suddenly impressed or inspired a year ago to take a shot at the Olympics. These athletes have been locked onto this Olympic dream for years. And even longer than that as fellow Michiganders Meryl Davis and Charlie White have shown us. They were just kids (eight and nine years old) 17 years ago when they began skating together. Their mothers thought it was cute. But nobody fathomed that it was the beginning of 17 years of ceaseless practicing, competing, practicing, competing—all for the sake of their pubescent dream to win an Olympic gold—a long seventeen-year dream that came true this week with their celebrated gold medal for pair figure skating (the first in U.S. Olympic history). Wow! I’m not suggesting we all drop our what-feels-so-mundane-in-comparison living and embrace the Olympic dream (do they have an Olympics for “old” people?). But if these young athletes are willing to endure the relentless rigors of prolonged and protracted training and pain and practice and retraining and more pain and falling and failing, over and over again for years, what are you and I willing to endure for the sake of Christ’s calling? One of the Olympian greats of sacred history actually referenced the Olympic games to make a point I hope we don’t soon forget: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown [gold medal] that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV). Like an Olympic athlete, Paul envisioned himself under intense unrelenting spiritual training, with one unshakeable dream—to win the gold. “Run [run, run] in such a way as to get the prize” (v 24). A rather testosteroned call for our generation, wouldn’t you say? But why not? If the Sochi athletes have poured their lives out for the sake of standing on the Olympic podium, shouldn’t we who are known followers of Jesus be willing to sacrifice what we have—our time, our energy, our resources, our reputation, our careers even—for the sake of standing tall on the podium for Christ? What is it Jesus is calling you to do for Him with your life or what is left of it? Of course being a disciple of His is costly. But wanting it cheap is like a couch potato dreaming of gold. The gold will cost you everything. It did for Jesus on the cross. And it will for you and me if our sights are higher than Sochi.