“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:25, NIV).
Going for Gold
Alexis A. GoringThe London 2012 Olympic Games were exceptionally good. They were filled with victories, as well as defeats. Some were even historic. Gabrielle Douglas, fondly known as “The Flying Squirrel,” became the first African-American female to win the all-around gymnastics gold medal. And she was only 16 years old! However, it was a difficult road to get there. Being African-American, she was heavily criticized and bullied. But her mother always told her to keep fighting. She shared her amazing story with Oprah Winfrey:
“ ‘I had to face a lot coming through this journey, a lot of sacrifices, difficulties, challenges, and injuries. . . I wanted everyone to know it’s still possible for anyone really. I wanted to make them know to never give up and always keep fighting, because though times may be tough, the sacrifices do pay off, so just keep pushing towards your dream and just love it at the same time and enjoy it.”1 And today she is on top of the world!
There were times when Douglas wanted to give up and go home, but she chose to work toward her dream of competing in the Olympics. Her decision was not in vain because her hard work, dedication, and perseverance paid off, and when she won gold, her life changed forever. Just as Douglas’s mother urged her to never give up and to fight and finish her dreams, our heavenly Father urges us to never give up, but to live each day for Him, and to go for a reward that’s better than gold—the gift of eternal life.
Another Olympic athlete whose plight evoked human interest was Liu Xiang, a Chinese track star who injured his Achilles tendon before reaching the finish line. He fell during the 110-meter hurdles, but despite his injury, he limped to the finish line, kissing the 10th and final hurdle.2 Xiang’s last place finish is perhaps one of the most inspirational moments in Olympic history.3
I believe the most touching aspect of Xiang’s story is that despite the pain, he refused to give up. He knew he wouldn’t medal, but he realized the significance of crossing the finish line. It is the same with our journey as Christians. The Bible tells us as to, “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:12, NLT). We can also be encouraged when we read Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (NLT).
The Olympics draw thousands of spectators, so the athletes are literally surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses as they try to win gold. We may never compete in the Olympics, but we are still surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses on a daily basis. We need to fight the good fight of faith, living each day for Jesus and doing His will in every aspect of our lives. When we finally cross the finish line, heaven, rather than a gold medal, will be our reward. But when you come to think of it, we will indeed find everlasting gold there (Rev. 21:21). We’ll be back flipping and running on it!
1. “Gabby Douglas Bullied, Tells Oprah She Almost Left Gymnastics,” The Inquisitr, http://www.inquisitr.com/312736/gabby-douglas-bullied-tells-oprah-she-almost-left-gymnastics/#gsgxm3LfhGUGzd34.99 (accessed August 29, 2012).
2. Howard Fendrich, “Liu Xiang Injured: Chinese Track Star Falls During 110-Meter Hurdles But Limps To Finish Line,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/liu-xiang-hurdles-fall-olympics-2012_n_1750798.html (accessed August 29, 2012).
3. Katherine Bindley, “Liu Xiang's Last-Place Finish: Most Inspirational Moment Of Olympics?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/liu-xiangs-finish-inspirational-moment-olympics_n_1752257.html (accessed August 29, 2012).