Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Going for the Mold

So I'm eating breakfast this AM and reading the box that my "Breakfast of Champions" has been housed. On the box is an homage to past champions of the Olympics and this box has a picture of Janet Evans, the swimming great from the 80's and early 90's. It lists her records and times and how many world championships and gold medals she won. The bio sheet never actually used the word "Olympics." I learned the International Olympic Committee has copyrighted many terms associated with the Olympics and many media uses are prohibited without paying a fee to the IOC. No wonder that my enthusiasm for the games is not as robust as in past years.

That being said I am watching them but without the enthrallment I once did. I also noticed how quite a number of the past Olympic champs from London ('12) and Bejing ('08) are placing 3rd or 4th or not even making their event's finals. There are exceptions like Ryan Lochte, age 32, and Michael Phelps, age 31, who despite their advanced ages are doing well. No doubt the old man, Usain Bolt, barring injury, at 29 will win most if not all of the sprints in track. Gabby Douglas, the all-round Olympic gymnastics champ in 2012, is just a nicely spoken of cog in the USA machine and a relic at age 20- a relic for female gymnasts anyway.

    It seems that in most, though not all cases, you hit your prime in late teens to late twenties and its downhill after that, which is only okay if you are a skier. Iran has a 56 year old ping pong Olympian ( I know it's table tennis). Uzbekistan has a 41 year old female gymnast and the US has Mary Hanna, a 61 year old Olympic athlete. Truthfully, however, her horse does most of the work on the equestrian course. Time is the enemy and after a certain passing of it, you may still compete and keep the Olympic spirit but in terms of medals you are going for the mold. Like this guy: Oldest Olympian.

He was found in Italy in the late 1950's and not examined till the 80's. They found four "medals" from the Panatheniac Games from 480 BC buried with him. He also had a jar of ointment athletes were known have used then (by his left thigh). It was labeled Benus Gayas.  His bones showed density from working out and wear and tear in the right shoulder bones and sockets. Scientists believe he was a thrower and\or a  Pentathlete.

There are so many good and wonderful experiences and lessons that come, no doubt, from the disciplines, the training, the competition, the losses and the wins that despite their relatively short span, I would encourage anyone with skills, abilities, and desires to pursue those noble sports and see where they take you. Most of us won't have those opportunities, most of us simply lack some key elements to take us to Olympic podiums.

In terms of the Christian walk of faith, time is not the enemy but our friend.  The experiences of life on this planet are the training sessions in trust, obedience, maturing, and love that our Savior uses to equip us for eternity. Some training sessions are hard, maybe even harsh it seems. There is always so much more to enjoy, more to see, more to understand about our King and His Kingdom that we will spend a glorious eternity exploring all the wonders of it all.

 Robert Browing put it this way in his epic poem Rabbi Ben Ezra:

                                         Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be,
                                         The last of life, for which the first was made: 
                                         Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned,
                                         Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

                                          Ay, note that Potter's wheel, That metaphor! and feel
                                          Why times spins fast, why passive lies our clay,--
                                          Thou, to whom fools propound, When the wine makes its round, 
                                          "Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!"
                                          Fool! all that is, at all, lasts ever, past recall;
                                          Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
                                          What entered into thee, That was, is, and shall be:
                                          Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

 Potter and clay (that's us) endure. The Olympic motto shouldn't apply just to teens and twenty years olds. Citius, Altius, Fortius is apropos for the believer in Christ. May as time speeds on we find ourselves moving faster to trust and obey; soaring higher in our aspirations to Christ-like character and hopes for mankind; Living braver (stronger) in our application of the truths of scripture in our culture as we share the gospel with the lost and bring justice to the poor and hurting.

So turn for a few days to watch the Olympics and marvel at the athlete's skill. But all days turn in faith to Christ and marvel at His grace that always takes us Faster, Higher, and Stronger in love and service. Don't just go for the gold in life, remember, in heaven, gold is merely pavement.

Destined for the podium,


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