Malcolm Ritter, an AP science writer really cheered me up this morning. Not that he said I can get myself ready for the next Olympics – but according to him, that I can make better use of my time exercising, practicing principles that flow from common biblical sense. (Article) Three points stuck out:
Don’t worry about the consequences of failure – do your best.
He quoted a coach who said: “In general . . . it’s best for athletes to focus on what they can control in the game.” And another who said: "You've got to discover for yourself ... what level of anxiety or relaxation works for you."
Anxiety doesn’t ever work for me – even though it is a too frequent companion, especially when I worry about what if. And I am still learning I have control over only myself.
Lest this realization become just a tiresome adage, I commend watching the recent Olympic gymnasts whose concentration on their own bodies made for some breathtaking routines. They have disciplined themselves, denied themselves and developed control over their bodies so that they appear to literally fly – as if without effort. Success is wholly a function of their own determination to control coordinate their bodies, minds and spirits. And they have the support of their families and coaches, enduring separation and hardship for the hope of a gold medal.
Do any of them seem to think the medal is their right, an entitlement?
Is it me, or have too many Americans lost our zest for competing and winning, going for the gold? And have too many Christians forgotten we too compete for a prize?
The first of this month many of us showed up to support a businessman’s right to speak his mind, even though what he said annoyed others. Today, how will we face a hurdle that others are erecting?
I pray nobody on our team shows up unprepared, undisciplined, or without love. I pray we run this race, mindful of Who are audience is -- like Eric Liddell, we have been created for a purpose and when we run, may we feel God’s pleasure. (Source quote)
The tragic irony of this grand movie, Chariots of Fire, about his life, recently released because of the 2012 Olympics, is that the actor who portrayed Eric Liddell, Ian Charleson, died of AIDS. He studied the Bible intensively for his role, and wrote Eric Liddell's inspirational speech to the post-race workingmen's crowd.
People may show up at a local Chick-fil- A for all kinds of reasons – but for the Christians who show up, I hope we remember our calling – ambassadors of the Living God. Just as the character, Eric Liddell preached in the movie – my prayer is that commitment to Jesus Christ will make a straight race for those who run.
You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me.
But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race.
It requires concentration of will, energy of soul.
You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape - especially if you've got a bet on it.
But how long does that last?
You go home. Maybe your dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job.
So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities?
I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way.
I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way.
And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me."
If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.