I have been transfixed over the past several days. Call me a couch potato...a sluggard (to recall a recent sermon!)...whatever you wish. But I'm sorry, the lure of the winter Olympic games has a firm hold on my available free time for these two weeks.
What's the big attraction? After all, there's no lack of sports programming on TV these days. Given all the channels on cable or satellite, you could be watching sports 24/7 if you wanted to.
No...it's something more than just the sports themselves. It is the ideal of what the Olympics represents. In part, it is the rarity...the "once every four years" aspect of them. In part it is the international focus...of seeing athletes from around the world in one place. But overarching these and many other aspects of the games is the understanding that these athletes have been working their very hardest for year after year for this single moment in time. A moment when all the work that they have done will have a chance to culminate in an experience of excellence. I say "a chance", because there is always the chance that in pushing the envelope, there will be a fall or a crash that will dash their dreams. The suspense of the outcome is something that is visceral.
Then to watch the award ceremony where the top three stand on the platform to receive their medals and to hear the national anthem of the gold medal winner. More specifically, to look into the faces of these athletes and sense what is going on inside their minds and hearts. This is so much better than anything else on television for these two weeks.
I am challenged by the Olympics and what they represent. To see the level of commitment that these young athletes have toward their sport of choice....and wonder if I am living a life that honors my Lord by how much I am putting into living for Him. If I claim to be Christ's ambassador, does my life reflect it? What does it mean to live for Christ? At the risk of being legalistic - a trap I don't wish to fall into - can I look at the hours of my day, the register of my checkbook, and the gifts/talents that God has given me and see more than lip service given to my faith?
We all can (and should) be challenged by the apostle Paul by reading the book of Acts and seeing what he endured to live for Christ. As we ask God each day to help us see how we can live for Him in every moment that He gives us, let us also be prepared to listen for His answer, and be ready to respond with enthusiasm. May the joy of our salvation be lived out in ways that reflect His glory and prove attractive to those who do not yet know Him.
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3: 12b-14)