Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat

I have been catching snatches of the Olympics on television this past week, the amazing accumulation of years of training for races and efforts that endure for even a few seconds or minutes.

But it is not just the competition that I have been watching, but the reactions when these athletes both win and when they don't, the elation, the tears, and the pointing to God -- or pointing to self.

It is one thing to glorify God in securing first place.  But a greater victory is revealed in glorifying God when an athlete misses the mark by one hundredth of a point or second, or coming in last place.  How do they respond to those around them?  Happy for you!  Good job!  Great race!  Winning or losing with a sincere heart, or with an arrogance that shuts out everyone else? 

It is not the bowing down or pointing upwards, but do they -- do we? -- even acknowledge those around them?  Hugging the victor when your own heart is breaking, or as the winner, embracing those with compassion and good will those who missed the mark.

Excuse me, but you are on an international screen, your arrogance is showing...or your grace.  The world may or may not remember that tight competition or even your name, but they will always remember how you treated others.  People are watching.

On a screen or not, those around you are watching if this God of yours really makes any difference in your life, not just in the major events or unexpected crises, but in the everyday details of your life.

Outdo one another in showing honor.   Romans 12. 10

Beyond one's carefully honed abilities, how one responds in victory or defeat, tells everyone about Who is at the core of who you are.  Your sport, your achievements, your medals or not, do not define you.  But your identity is who you are in God's eyes. Precious in His sight.  He is at work in you, in whatever you do, winning or losing, bringing glory to Him.

Yes, my friend,
even in this hard place
or impossible situation,
no race at all,
    scaling a mountain
or walking through that valley.

The real gold is
not hanging around your neck,
  but visibly radiating from within.

Therefore, since we are surrounded
by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight
and sin which clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance
the race that is set before us,
                looking to Jesus...

                    Hebrews 12. 1-2 

For each of us,
         a different course.

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