The Rev. Janice Ford
The Church of the Reconciliation (Episcopal), Webster, MA
Like so many Americans, I watched the summer Olympics this year with great interest and enthusiasm. My favorites were gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, and track and field. Though I, too, take great pride in those American athletes who competed, I found myself also cheering on athletes from other nations who had stories to tell—those who suffered great hardships to get to the Olympics, or those who rebounded from severe injuries to make it back to competing again.
What strikes me the most about all the athletes is their unwavering dedication to their goal. Hours upon hours of practice, the stress of competition leading up to the Olympic games, and the sacrifices made in their personal lives are just some of what these men and women (some of them really still children) endure in order to achieve greatness.
It is obvious to me that there is much more to what drives these individuals than just the possibility of a gold medal and its ensuing life changes. It is also obvious to me that it is more than just the physical skill and prowess they possess that allows them to be successful. I believe that these individuals would succeed whether competing in a sporting event, or working in any field, anywhere, doing anything. In other words, these are people who understand several important things about living a successful life: that one has to have a goal; that one has to understand that the path to achieving that goal may be laden with obstacles, and that there will undoubtedly be failures along the way; that one has to be willing to make great personal sacrifices in order to achieve the goal; that one has to be willing to put in the time, effort, energy and hard work in order to achieve the goal; and that one has to surround him or herself with people who can not only teach them the best way to achieve the goal, but who will continue to support and sustain them through all of it.
All of what I have just described is also what it takes to achieve the goal of living a life grounded in Christ. Consider the similarities: at some point in our lives we choose Christ as our goal; the One whose goal it is to lure us away from God will create many temptations to trip us up on our journey; because we are human, we will stumble and fall from time to time along the way; following Christ is not easy—or popular—so we must make great sacrifices in terms of how we live in order to have the life Christ wants for us; the work of Christianity is difficult--it is not always easy to put God first, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, to make choices that benefit others as well as ourselves, to spread the Gospel, and to make time to worship, study Scripture, and to pray; we need Jesus as our “coach” and teacher, and we find his guidance in the words of Scripture; and, finally, we surround ourselves with those who have the same goal as ours, so that we can continually offer one another support and encouragement through good times and bad.
Now that the Olympic games have ended, many of us are able to name those athletes who won medals and broke records. However, there were many others who competed, but did not fare as well. Their names may not be known or remembered by anyone beyond their families, hometowns, or their own scrapbook of memories. When we consider living a life grounded in Christ, however, here is where the similarity ends. Our names are already written in God’s Book. God awards the highest honor of eternal life to everyone who seeks after that goal—no matter how many times we fail. What God asks is that we continue to try. In the end, we will all stand on the podium together, and the anthem we hear will be that of the angels and archangels singing God’s praises.
- Wednesday, 15 August 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Religion