Summer is winding down, school bells are ringing, and the 2008 Olympics have become recorded history. America was awarded with 110 medals and swimmer Michael Phelps received an unprecedented 8 gold medals, surpassing the world records of Mark Spitz and other champions.
It's amazing to watch buff bodies accomplish fantastic feats. However, ultimately, the Olympics are about perseverance, tenacity, and the overcoming spirit. Each athlete's story speaks to our own spiritual race...
In one particular event, the 4th and 5th place runners were moved to the 2nd and 3rd place positions after it was determined that 2 runners had stepped on lines—more than once. It seemed anticlimactic for the two US runners to accept those medals. In their minds, violation or not, the disqualified runners had still finished faster.
In track, the rules are strict. A sprint runner is confined to one lane. Runners are immediately disqualified for false starts, stepping on or over lines, or if there is interference of any kind.
The Bible compares our lives, also, to a race. So what's the difference between worldly and spiritual races? The biggest factor is God's GRACE. Spiritually, we should have been disqualified a long time ago. We've all violated the rules. Yet, God has graciously permitted us to continue. Can we be disqualified? Yes, if we choose to run our coarse without Jesus Christ.
Each race is uniquely designed and no one can run our race for us. It isn't a competition. We cheer for one another. We are instructed to run with excellence, drawing our strength from Jesus, who willingly entered his own race to endure the Cross.
So, what about those 2 runners who received medals by default? There's no doubt that it was an awkward moment for all but the gold medalist. Should they apologize or disqualify their accomplishment? God would say no. They submitted to the rules of the race. They ran with excellence. They finished.
Philippians 3:12 (The Message) - Focused on the Goal
12-14 I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.2 Timothy 4:7 (The Message)
6-8 You take over. I'm about to die, my life an offering on God's altar. This is the only race worth running. I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that's left now is the shouting—God's applause! Depend on it, he's an honest judge. He'll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming.