Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Silver isn't good enough

Despite NBC's best efforts to ruin the experience, my wife and I have been enjoying the London Olympics over the past week. I know that some people have been upset with the tape delay of major events. But that has not bothered me much simply because those stubborn Brits refuse to play the games in the middle of the night to accommodate our prime time. What has bothered me is that NBC covers only certain events on the main network. So for those of us that don't have cable we get to watch a lot of beach volleyball but no team handball, soccer or field hockey. The other thing that really got me going was NBC showing an add for the Today show that gave away the Missy Franklin's win in the 100m backstroke that they were just about to show. Nothing takes away the excitement of watching a sporting event when you already know the outcome.

But I digress.

Sunday we were watching the Women's Vault finals. We had not followed much of the women's gymnastics (which is quite a misnomer when you consider the age of the gymnasts) but knew that the U.S. had a good team. We missed the team winning the team all-around gold medal and Gabby Douglas winning the individual all-around gold medal. We were however looking forward to McKayla Maroney's vault final after seeing the replays of her near perfect vault in the team final. For those that are following the Olympics you know that Maroney almost nailed her first and signature vault in the Finals. There was a little hop in the landing but not enough to drastically hurt her score. As she lined up for her second vault one of the NBC commentators said, "She just needs to put it to her feet." Maroney promptly landed on her bum. The commentators said that she was the closest thing to a sure gold medal both before and after her stumble to which my wife turned to me and said, "There is no such thing as a sure thing."

And in human terms she's right.

My friend Brad did a good job covering how God is a sure thing just last week. But when it comes to us as human beings we are fatally flawed. We are imperfect. That is why the sure thing of McKayla Maroney's gold medal win was not a sure thing.

The Apostle Paul draws on the Olympic Games as an illustration to how we should live our lives in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
There is a serious amount of training that an Olympic athlete must undergo in order to compete at the highest level. Paul knew that and it is interesting that he compared that amount of training to living a life dedicated to following Christ. I've played enough sports over the years to know that it can be easy to confuse (or even fool yourself) the difference between putting in a high level effort and giving it your all when it comes to practice and training. The question is whether or not we are actually putting that type of effort into our walk with God. Am I really dedicating my life to God the way that I should or am I coasting and thinking the effort is good enough? Paul gives us a great list of the attributes of living a Godly life in Galatians 5:22-23:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Everything on that list is something that can be worked on. Some people might naturally be more adept at some of those things than others. But even those things that come fairly easy to us can be improved. Does anyone love perfectly, have perfect joy or perfect patience? These are things that we should be actively working on developing and we should be doing so with the same dedication and effort that we see in our Olympic athletes. There will be times when we try to exercise gentleness and we fall flat on our bum. But that doesn't mean that we should give up. McKayla Maroney was obviously not pleased with her result. For her winning the silver was not good enough. Hopefully it spurs her on to do even better the next time around. Whenever we fall short we should not simply say, "Well I tried and did my best. That is good enough." We should be resolute to work harder and to do better next time around.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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