As quickly as the Olympics came, they’re nearly done. But three memories in particular will linger for me.
First, of course, “Zika.” The infectious story will remain long after Sunday’s closing celebration. Frankly, we may not live to see the end of the consequences of the Zika virus. Currently, there’s no vaccine nor any medicine capable of treating the disease.
Secondly, “The Water.” How is it possible a city as cosmopolitan as Rio can allow their harbor, and several race sites, be so polluted with human waste? It’s left a stench-filled mark on both the city and the country.
But the third and most important memory will be “The Stories” of amazing men and women who have trained for years in preparation for these contests. The stories are what make us pay attention, they’re what draws the audience for NBC. Once we know the background of these sporting gladiators, we tend to follow more intently. We root for them to fulfill their greatest dreams.
For some, the Olympic end came as a nightmare. Like women’s bicycle road racer from Holland, Annemiek van Vleuten. I watched live as she crashed at 50MPH headfirst into a gutter, being knocked unconscious. In an instant she went from first to nearly deadly last.
If you’ve seen the pictures or video of French gymnast Samir Ait Said, you will never forget his horrific leg break. Or how about Great Britain’s Ellie Downie land on her neck. She was lucky there was nothing lasting or more serious than temporary dizziness. Some have called these games “the most dangerous ever” because there were many other broken legs, collarbones, fractured backs and leg injuries.
In the midst of so many suffering the agony of defeat, we’ve heard stories of victory and deep dependence on Jesus. For the past two weeks on Haven Today, Charles Morris has highlighted the champion lives of four such Olympic athletes:
– Silver medalist synchronized divers Steele Johnson and David Boudia
– Gold medalist in gymnastics Laurie Hernandez
– Wrestler Jordan Burroughs who won gold in London four years ago and holds multiple world championships
I must admit, as I’ve heard their bold proclamation for Christ on Haven Today, I’ve tended to root a little louder, listen a bit more intently, and search a little harder for results of these fine Christian athletes competitions.
It amazes me the scrutiny which these athletes must endure. For example, in synchronized diving, every little move. The position of the toes. The height of the splashes, the angle of their arms. Or in gymnastics, sticking a landing perfectly. Perfection is not preferred, it’s mandatory!
Suffice it to say, the games of the modern Olympiad also frame well so many lessons for the modern Christian. Our training in this life is to prepare for the next where we will also be judged and receive reward. Our eye is to be on the prize which awaits us, as Paul said to the Corinthians,
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I [l]discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
The Olympics may be ending for this year, but our training days aren’t over quite yet!
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