Many of us watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics last night and are awed by the lights and the theatrics. This country had been planning for the spectacular for years. Today, the athletes are beginning their competitions and we will wait in anticipation to find out if our country is leading in the medal race. But, if we look behind the scenes, we find out that these athletes have been training for their chance on the gold medal platform for years, some for most of their lives. I recall learning that some countries will search for Olympic talent when children are as young as preteens. Some of these children know nothing else, but to keep their eye on the opportunity to compete in the Olympics for most of their lives. It is their single goal. It sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? Many of us may have even fanaticized about our children competing in the Olympics and wearing a gold medal when we see some hint of talent as they swim, hit a softball, or seem to run around with seemingly lightening speed. We know it is a long shot, but wouldn’t it be amazing? Wouldn’t we swell with pride? But it takes years to train, making sure our child were associated with the best trainers and surrounded by those who are single-minded in trying to help our children, or us, prepare for that one day that we would have a chance to win a gold medal. Many of these athletes will move from friends and family to help them focus on their goal. Parents and athletes will find the best trainers and listen intently for their direction that will help them to be the athlete they need to be to win. Their children's lives are dedicated to this one day, this one chance.
I hope that as each of us watches the Olympic games this year, we will consider the race that each of us run every day. I hope we will consider our children's training for the most important race of their lives. Our Lord tells us:“ But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” I Cor. 9:24. I hope that we consider the “gold medal” that our Savior longs to give us, to give our precious babies. But, the stakes are the same. We must train every day. “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14. We need to surround ourselves with people who are concerned about our finishing the race, who will give us encouragement that we can do this! We must also listen to those who will help us to make sure we are training correctly and don’t become distracted by Satan’s temptations to quit, who tell us it is just too hard. We must keep in mind those athletes that have gone before us and were successful and are at the finish line cheering us on: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Heb 12:1. This life has a longer training period for heaven than for the Olympics. The training gets old and sometimes seems exhausting. But we must remember that others are running with us. We don’t have to do this alone. When all is said and done, what a peaceful and satisfying feeling it will be to say: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7.