Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lessons From The Olympians

As I watched the opening ceremonies of this year's summer Olympics, several thoughts were racing through my mind. Will the U.S Men's Basketball team be able to return to their "Dream Team" status? Will Phelps blow away the competition again? Who'll be crowned the world's fastest man and will The Woodlands Laura Wilkinson bring home the gold again? I also thought, China has put together the greatest opening ceremony I have ever seen.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks runners will run, swimmers will swim, and gymnasts will jump, twirl, spin, tumble, and try to stick their landings. Athletes from around the world will stretch their bodies to the limits in an effort to be the best in the world at what they do. They'll mesmerize and amaze us by their talent, skill, and heart. Then, in just two weeks it'll all come to an end.

Think about that. In just two weeks, these athletes who have trained for most of their lives for this moment will find "this moment" over. Let me break it down even more. In just 9 seconds, the "world's fastest man" will be crowned. Just 9 seconds! We'll watch him take off and then kick in the after-burners for the last few strides of that 100 meters. All the other athletes will take a little longer than 9 seconds to win their events, but it'll all be wrapped up within just 2 weeks.

Have you ever stopped to think about the enormous amount of work and preparation that these athletes go through in order to prepare themselves for this one moment. What we see is "the moment." We aren't privy to the process. Those mornings when their bodies don't want to get out of bed. Those days when the don't want to practice. Those meal times when they don't want to eat healthy. Those days they want to punch their coach in the nose. Those times when their bodies are screaming at them to stop. Those moments when the sacrifice of time and the physical and emotional demands of training begins to strain their closest relationships. No, we don't get to see them fight through all of that and we don't get to see all the endless hours of preparation. All we see is "the moment." That moment when all the preparation determines what we all see.

In that way, the Olympics aren't all that different than our lives. What we do in private goes a long way in determining what the world around us sees in our public life. It would be great if these athletes could just show up the day of their event and compete without any preparation but that's not the way it works. If they want to perform at the highest level possible, preparation is a must. So it is with us. Sure, we can put on masks and have the appearance we've got it all together, but at some point we've got to get in the water, or step up to the starting blocks so to speak. Life is challenging and when crisis or challenges hit, the world gets to see the real you. As a believer, if we are constantly allowing the Holy Spirit to develop us, it will be evident in the way we do life. If we are consistently open to allow God to chip away at our character in those quiet and alone times, then our public performance will show evidence of that. That being said it doesn't mean that we aren't ever going to blow it. However, if we are willing to go through this process, our life will reveal growth and it will be evident to all those around us.

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