As I watch the Olympics, I think about the time, energy, and sweat these men and women have spent the last few years training, qualifying, and now competing. I wonder how they will respond to winning or losing? I wonder how much of their identity is wrapped up in their performance?
I have been a part of championship teams and won honors for athletic achievement. I think I may still have the state record in the state of Michigan for throwing a softball for distance back in an AAU track and field event in middle school (338 feet). Yet I have also been on the end of tough losses. I participated in a great high school wrestling program in metro Detroit, but remember getting beat 5-3 by Steve Fraser in a tournament in the mid 1970’s. He went on to a great career at the University of Michigan and won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. I trained hard, was in great shape, was aggressive on offensive and defense, but still got beat. I still remember one move that cost me the points that Steve earned to win. I know the ups and downs of high-level competition, training relentlessly for a goal, and seeing dreams squashed by a run, one takedown, a missed tackle, or a slap shot I thought I had stopped as a defenseman. It always hurts to lose.
Read Psalm 143:7-10.
For many athletes, finding God’s will is a great mystery because they are so focused on their mental and physical development, and often forget the THIRD, and necessary component – their spiritual development. This was the missing piece of my life that I discovered in college.
Consider what the Bible says about God’s will. If we strive to live according to what He has said, we’ll have a head start in working from a solid foundation for life, regardless of position, popularity, possessions (i.e., medals), or power. Look at four ideas c/o His will:
1. Romans 12:1-2 says to test God’s will, and change your thinking so that it does not conform to the world’s view of seeing things. Example: If you miss earning a medal, you are not a loser.
2. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 says to avoid sexual immorality, because you are set apart to God, and can be empowered to live a holy life. Example: If you are not active sexually, you are not weird.
3. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to give thanks to God, no matter what happens. Example: Olympic Champion Eric Liddell said when he ran, he felt God’s pleasure. He was a grateful person.
4. 1 Peter 2:15 says to do good [which reflects God’s character], which silences foolish people. FYI, Ephesians 5:17 says not to be foolish, but to know what the Lord’s will is.
God’s will is not missing. You don’t have to be a detective to discover a pattern for life that works. God has revealed His specific will (Romans 8:29 – being conformed to the image of Christ), and He will guide you into what He wants you to do. Your role is to partner with the Holy Spirit in becoming like Him, living for Him, and remaining sensitive to His leading.
Join my wife and me in praying for God’s will to be done at www.athletesinaction.org. Click on the Olympic Project Blog, and become an Olympic Prayer Partner with AIA during the London Games. Live communally. As you watch the athletes on TV, pray for them to want to be total athletes (mental-physical-spiritual). To do God’s will, we all need to obey God’s words.
Love is a verb,