Monday, February 17, 2014

.52 Seconds

More Olympic-Sized Thoughts from Sochi...

 If you've been following the Olympics, you know that the USA's beloved Bode Miller finished 8th in the Downhill Ski Finals. There was pressure from the start. Bode had taken first place in two out of three preliminary runs. He pushed of the starting block and excelled at the top of the hill, as usual. As his run continued, he started to lose ground. And when I say lose ground, I mean .09, .24, .28 kind of ground. One wrong positioning of a ski, and BAM!... you've lost a tenth of a second. So the announcers knew it, Bode knew it, and if you've seen the clip of his know she knew it. The run that mattered, the run that could provide a medal around his neck was just not good enough. He missed the gold by .52 seconds.

Have you ever missed an opportunity or a victory by that small of a margin? There is something so disturbing and painful about missing a success by such a small margin. Out of all of the places in Olympic standings, 4th is my least favorite. 4th! If you get 2nd or 3rd, you get a medal and a anthem's length time on the podium. If you come in 4th, you want everyone to know that you are still an Olympic athlete and on any other day, it could have been YOU that stood on the podium and waved your flag for a victory lap. 

In high school, I was a Musical Theatre nerd and spent my days and nights memorizing lines, choreography and melodies. Dress rehearsals were always quite comical with the line slips, the technical glitches, the costume malfunctions, the orchestra tempos and the missed cues. Yet somehow, we pulled it all together just in time for the curtains to be pulled back for opening night. After one particular dress rehearsal, I received a plaque as a gift that reads,

 "Life is not a dress rehearsal... Go for it!" 

Here's the thing... If you belong to Jesus, you are living your eternity. Make it count! We can't be timid about our pursuits because of fear, failure or any other barrier. Life will not always lead us to the platform with a gold medal hanging around our neck. We will place fourth. We will place last. We will be disqualified. We will face injuries. We will be treated unfairly. We will be victims of subjective scoring. But it is not about whether we face tribulation, it is how we handle the tribulation. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, do it ENTHUSIASTICALLY, as doing it for the Lord and not for men." God doesn't care if we place fourth or fail at an attempted project. He cares how we handle ourselves when we miss the mark and we must deal with our loss, sorrow and disappointment. Edwin Chapin, an American preacher in the 1800s, once said of tribulation:

 "Tribulation will not hurt you, unless as it too often does; it makes you sour, narrow and skeptical."  

4th place only hurts when a soured competitor allows the sting. Rejoice in your success. Rejoice in your gifts and talents. Allow God to work THROUGH you as you work FOR Him! 

*On a side note, Bode Miller shook it off and went on to place Bronze in the Super-G! Go Bode!!!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Olympic-Sized Conversations for You and Your Children

1. Teamwork and Community

"If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." -Philippians 2:1-4


We are living in a society and time where the individual is so highly valued. We love to figure out how we can do things on our own without hiring someone, placing a burden on someone, or spending too much time and money. But let's be honest... no DIY (Do-It-Yourself) project comes without step-by-by instructions from those who have gone before us and figured out just how to make the perfect wreath, design the most creative bedroom space, update the kitchen nook, change out the car part or antique the piece of furniture. To do it ourselves, we must have a blog, a book, an example or a set of instructions. In all honesty, we are just part of a large community putting our big boy and big girl pants on to accomplish tasks set before us. We are deceived to believe that we can be with people without being with people. We can be in someone's living room or at their dinner table without actually sitting on their couch or eating their food. We can take a workout class with an instructor who we will never meet. We can play video games with someone in Czechoslovakia but never know their face or their voice. While all of that is fascinating, there is nothing like being able to reach out and touch someone or see them face to face. And that is why I love the Olympics... the masses come together, face to face, to compete, to cheer, to observe and to celebrate the accomplishment of the cream of the crop around the world. 

Prior to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, I let my husband know that I would be watching the opening ceremonies. He heard me, he listened, he sat down for a "light viewing" of the opening ceremonies to find his wife completely invested. When we visited his parents later that week, he let them know in a shocked tone of voice that I watched the opening ceremonies in it's ENTIRETY and was fully captured by the event. Ok, I confess! I truly love it! I rejoice at the sight of the nations coming together. All tribes and tongues come for competition, but they recognize the honor to be a part of a TEAM. They come representing their country, the people, the history and the values. On a side note, I anxiously await the day when every tribe and tongue comes together to confess that Jesus is Lord. Now you see, during the Olympic Games this month, we will view individual competitions, couple competitions, team competitions. Some will win medals as individuals, others will win medals as a team. However, when the games are over and the athletes board planes to return home in victory, the medal count that interests most is the medal count for each country! How many bronze, silver and gold medals did WE win?


Our personal relationship with Christ is of utmost importance. Without it, we cannot be part of God's family. With it, the world opens up and a community is made available to us. What does it mean for you and your family to play on God's team? Has being in a community of believers changed you? How can you impress upon your children the importance of "playing together" to "go for the gold." God never intended for Christianity to be an individual, solo sport. As His Word says in Philippians, community of the Spirit should cause us to care, to love, to agree, to put others first, and to lend a leaning hand. It's not about an individual gold medal. It is about walking the streets of gold with those who have journeyed with you and Jesus. It is about the present Kingdom of God, made possible by Christ's coming, His death and His resurrection. We are competing for an eternal prize with a team that will last forever. Our muscles will not deteriorate, in fact they will grow stronger. Our bones will not break, because His spirit is powerful. We will not lose the ability to compete, we will add to our team and to our gain.


More OLYMPIC-SIZED conversations to follow...