Have you been watching the Olympics? I’m not a sports fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I always enjoy watching the Olympics, both summer and winter. I’m always uber-impressed with the excellence the competitors exhibit. And I’m always struck by the stories of personal dedication and perseverance.
Yesterday a friend questioned the sacrifice these athletes and their families make, wondering if it’s worth it or even wise. There is always incredible expense, sacrifice by their families, and childhoods spent in practice settings. As a sports cynic, I have to agree with her. I certainly wouldn’t want to have a child of mine spend their childhood like that.
But let’s look at it from a different perspective. Isn’t this fierce determination how we’re called to live our Christian lives? To become extraordinary rather than settling for the ordinary? The writer to the Hebrews tells us to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). Each of us is called to a different race, a different “event.” And each of us faces different challenges, obstacles, and opportunities. As I’m writing this, I’m watching the snowboarding finals. The halfpipe course is softer and bumpier than ideal, causing many excellent athletes to fall. U.S. favorite Shaun White didn’t even metal.
The same is true in our lives. Sometimes we don’t get an ideal course. Sometimes we get entangled by burdens or sin. Sometimes we fall. But like the Olympic athletes, we need to get up, brush ourselves off, and persevere.
What does that mean? Am I willing to get up early in the morning to spend time with Jesus? Am I willing to sacrifice recreation, time with friends, or even professional pursuits to pursue relationship with Him? Am I willing to spend money on expensive “equipment” — classes, conferences, or opportunities — to pursue splendor? What am I willing to sacrifice to obtain the pearl of great price? We need pursue splendor as godly men and women as if the gold metal depended upon it.