Lessons from Beijing

Posted by Heather Conrad at 2:47 PM

Friday, August 22, 2008

I don't know about you, but I just can't get enough of the Olympics! I wish by body would obey my will to stay away each night, but alas, I've needed to check out nbc.com in order to receive my 411. There are so many things I find fascinating about this best-of-the-best competition - they reveal the heart of the human spirit, the drive of the will against all odds, and the humanity of our best moments and not-so-best moments, but for me, they drive home some very amazing lessons.

This past Monday, Aaron happened to be out of town, so I decided to jump on the treadmill after the kids went to bed. Quite an experience to be sweating along with the TV as I watched athletes sweat away too. I watched the beach volleyball ladies, yelling and clapping as if my voice alone would be the one to carry them on to victory, as if when they succeed, I earned the right to join in their success as well. It got me thinking about how many hours they have dedicated to their sport/sports of choice. A sport in which they were created and born to do (Usain Bolt), whether it be their body type, the encouragement of their hometown surroundings, or even their family heritages passed down (Nastia Liukin). Their amazing abilities to focus under pressure, their motivation to keep pursuing for a comeback, and their humility as the microphones are pushed into their faces, generally right after their rise or fall, gives us such a glimpse into ourselves.

It's was a tradition in our family to gather around the TV during that 4 year (now 2 year) span. I have very vivid memories of certain events, and even more memories of the discussions afterwards. As a family involved in sports, one had a sense of the culmination of hours of preparation for a few minutes of performance - hopefully, peak performance. Yet, as many times as you may practice, the chance of mistakes that could happen loom over you like the darkest cloud on a blustery day. Days where no matter how strong your will, your body simply betrays you. My heart just collapses for Lolo Jones as she was seconds away from feeling that gold around her neck, to mistakening catch her toes on the second to last hurdle, able to finish, yet placing sixth. To be that close, to have trained that long, to have overcome a tremendous past, to endure endless hours of pain and even injury with a set-goal in mind, to make a simple mistake and be "out" (USA relay 4x4 relay teams, both men AND women who dropped the baton). The "if-only" hanging over your head and not being able to have a re-do, devestating.

So then what? Some say, I want another chance, and rededicate another 4 years of their life - wow. Are we able to keep "rededicating" our lives, mistake after mistake? I pray that Lolo doesn't lose sight that she is sixth, yet sixth IN THE WORLD! Can she see that because of the outcome of her event, another girl was able to have her story. Can she see her value and worth in the eyes of the one who gives us our eternal worth? I pray she does. I pray that she may know the one who extends to us everlastings re-dos in the form of forgiveness, knowing our fraility, our sinful nature, and our tendencies to satisfy ourselves. In fact, someone who loves us enough to be willing to die WHILE we sin. (Romans 5:8)

So what about the billions of us not called to be a US athete? We have a race we're running as well. 1 Corinthians 9 tell us:

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25Everyone 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.

In our pursuit to set our minds on our goal, to pursue with determination, passion, ferver, and in a steadfast way, where do we turn? Colossians 3:2 tells us to set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 1 Peter 1:13 states, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Lord, in a world that pulls me to set goals for my own personal success, help me to consider to set my mind on you instead. In a world that tells me to store up treasures here on earth, will you remind me that these "things" do not last? Help me to set my mind on you in order that I may store up treasures in heaven. I have a desire to see a reward now, will you help me to remember that the greatest rewards are yet to come. I love you. Thank you for loving me.