Well, the Olympics are over and my evenings are empty.
The end of the Olympics is always such a let down. Two more years we have to wait to see anything like it again!
And this year was even worse for me because I am home a lot more than I ever have been, so I kept the Olympics on all day. It was fun. For one thing, I got to learn so many random facts about the superstars.
Simone Biles, for example, trains for 32 hours a week, only taking Sundays off. Michael Phelps has to eat something like 12,000 calories a day to have the energy for his training routine. Katie Ledecky raced so fast that in practice she beat a lot of the male swimmers. When asked about it, she said she was so focused on what she needed to do, she honestly hadn’t even noticed.
These people are intense.
And God tells you and me to learn from them.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says,
“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. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (emphasis added)
When athletes train, it affects their sleep, their food, their time, their money, their schedules, their leisure activities… Every single part of their lives has a single focus: winning the prize.`
But Paul says their ultimate goal is just a “perishable crown…” All that work for something that won’t even matter for long!
Thinking about all of those athletes and their insane training routines, I can’t help thinking: If they are willing to dedicate every minute of their lives, to work that hard, for something that’s going to perish in the end anyway, how much more should we be willing to work and to sacrifice in order to be about our King’s business, pointing people to the one and only Way?
There are days in which I am so busy or so tired that I don’t want to make the effort to read my Bible, to pray, or to serve others. There are days when I feel the need to dedicate myself to some other work so entirely that I push spiritual things right out of my mind. But those other things, and the rewards that come with them, are perishable. Only serving my Lord can affect lives for eternity.
As I watched those athletes work and sweat and talk about their sacrifices, I realized how spiritually out of shape I am, how often I forget to prioritize that imperishable crown over earthly comforts.
So I’m going to work on following the footsteps of those athletes. I’m going to try to refocus myself more often, pray and read my Bible more seriously, think about the world in the way God sees it. And little by little, God can grow me into one who can run without uncertainty and fight with purpose, as Paul said.