It’s quite exciting to watch the Olympic Games and its races, competition, and victories. The athletes makes it appear as if their participation is effortless. Yet, becoming familiar with the stories of the athletes clearly indicates that their arrival to the Olympics didn’t just happen overnight.
Carl Lewis. Bonnie Blair. Michael Phelps. Gabby Douglas.
These Olympians began training early (some as young as 3 years old!), some even moving away hundreds of miles from home to train with specific coaches, and ultimately training for several hours a day. In fact, in Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell famously created the “10,000 hour rule”—the belief that becoming a success in any field requires practicing a specific task for 10,000 hours. Many sacrifices made in order for these athletes to reach this ultimate race.
In 1st Corinthians 9:24-26, Paul wrote to Christians familiar with the races run by Greek athletes as he taught them about the Christian race: “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!”
Winners of the Christian race weren’t born spiritual giants. Great men and women like Charles Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, D.L. Moody, and Fanny Crosby fought the good fight in spite of overwhelming pressure and struggles with illness and disaster.
In order for you and I to be successful in our race of faith, Scriptures show us we need:
SELF-DISCIPLINE: the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it*
ENDURANCE: the ability to withstand hardship or adversity, especially the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity*
LONGEVITY: long continuance*
PERSISTENCE: the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people*.
As we are inspired by the Olympians in these Summer games, may our hope be renewed and strengthened to walk out our godly purpose towards the finish line. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
(*Definitions from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)