As we enter into the last week of the 2008 Olympics I thought I’d make another post about the connection between sports, athletic performance and faith.
Hebrews 12 begins, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and protector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured on the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful man, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
This verse reminds me of my competitive distance running days. As I’ve written before on this blog, I used to be very aware of the importance of being as efficient as possible when I would run races. I can recall how I used to trim off the edges of the numbers that I had to pin on my chest. I trimmed off every bit of white paper that was not necessary so that I would be carrying around as little weight as possible during the race.
During these Olympics, I have often looked for how runners or other competitors might be doing something similar to gain as much of an edge as possible during their competitions. Last night, for example, I observed the Women’s Eight rowing competition and noticed that the coxswain in the stern of the boat was wearing a baseball cap. She was facing the direction that they were headed and it seemed to me that less drag would have occurred if she had not been wearing a baseball cap. Nonetheless, the team was able to capture a gold medal for the first time since 1964.
In Hebrews, the writer is reminding us that a lot of people are observing how we live our life. He encourages us to strip off everything that might hinder our life, especially the sin that so easily entangles us. I can only imagine how many millions of people have observed the competitors during these Olympics. It’s a good reminder of how many people are observing me and how I am living my life. This is a great time for each of us to reflect on how we are living our lives and whether or not we are being models for those who were observing us.
As I was watching the Women’s Eight competition, I noticed that the coxswain was shouting into a microphone. A device known as a cox box amplifies what is spoken into the microphone and helps her fellow rowers hear what the coxswain is saying. One way we can be encouraged to”strip off the extra weight” is to regularly read the Bible and to listen carefully to what we hear God speaking to us. Just as words of encouragement are heard by the coxswain through speakers on the boat, if we read the Bible expecting to hear from God, we’ll often be able to hear Him, even as He speaks to us in a still, small voice.
As we watch these last several days of the Olympics, let us be reminded to strip off every thing that weighs us down. Remember, just as millions of people are watching the Olympics and observing the athletes, many people are watching us.