The Heart of a Champion
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
All Olympics, all the time. Know what I'm talking about? Either you're watching this week or you're not. And in my casa, we watch.
My love for observing competition and athletic prowess has been around for a long time. Football, baseball and basketball are fine, but I really prefer seeing something with a little more flair and abandon: gymnastics, ice skating, tennis, skiing, snowboarding, track and field, etc.
My fascination with these sports began as a child while watching ABC's "Wide World of Sports" on Saturday afternoons. Remember that program with Jim McKay as the host? The opening with the montage of sporting moments—including the final scene of a ski jumper crashing and burning at the end of a ski jump—was so dramatic and breathtaking. And who can forget the compelling, accompanying narration …
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety in sports …
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat …
The human drama of athletic competition …
This is ABC's Wide World of Sports!
Words like "victory" and "defeat" are still ever present as I'm watching the current Olympic competition in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. There are athletes like 2006 Olympic gold medalist ice skater Evgeni Plushenko, who returned to try and two-peat his way to gold (just like his hero, ice-skating legend Dick Button). In Evgeni, though, there seems to be an insatiable hunger to regain the glory he had achieved for himself four years ago. After his win at the Torino Olympics, he retired for a couple of years before lacing up his skates again and making a run for victory in Vancouver (he took the silver last night with Evan Lysacek taking the gold).
There are other athletes like the redheaded wonder Shaun White, who are compared to basketball great and super-athlete Michael Jordan as those who are focused on truly dominating their sport. Only 23, Shaun is a multi-hyphenate, as he is successful in both snowboarding and skateboarding. He wants to be the best and to raise the bar at every competition in which he participates. In fact, he even had his own Halfpipe ("Shaun's Secret Halfpipe") built in Colorado where he could practice and prepare for the Vancouver Olympics. He was hidden from his competition and the media, so that no one could see what daring and original moves he was working for the Olympic games (and it worked, by the way … he won the gold in the Men's Halfpipe with a "Double McTwist 1260"!).
And then don't forget the "comeback kids." Athletes such as decorated snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis who crashed and burned in the last winter Olympics in Torino in the Women's Snowboard Cross (alright, she won the silver … but she was highly favored to win gold) and saw victory slide right through their hands. They've been back to give it another go and see if they can redeem themselves from their prior mistakes (and in Lindsey's case, she saw gold slip away again after being disqualified in Vancouver this week for going off course in the Women's Snowboard Cross final and nicking a gate).
As I watch the interview segments with champion athletes such as these, I am fascinated by what drives someone to win. Acclaim. Pride. And in some cases, perhaps vengeance. And then consider what it takes to achieve greatness: the long hours of practice, the conditioning, the strict eating regimens, the sacrifices in so many areas of their lives. Is it worth it in the end? What propels them? What motivates them? And what's going on in their hearts?
Though you and I may not have the skills as these athletes, as brothers and sisters in Christ we do already have victory. Victory over death through Jesus, who died on the cross. Who paid the price and cancelled our debt. Whose blood was shed to cover our sins. Our salvation, the promise of eternal life, is more precious than any gold medal. More celebrated than any earthly title or prestige we could ever humanly know.
Bask in that glory today. The glory of your victor. The thrill of his victory. Your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Intersecting Faith & Life:
In Christ, the heart of a champion is positioned to reflect God's glory. Take a look inside your heart today and see what's there. Are you purposing to "always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:58)? How are you training and conditioning yourself to champion Christ and reflect him to others?