(originally published by Christine Sine, Godspace)
Like many, I have had my eyes glued to the TV watching the Winter Olympics over the last few days. I have rarely been impacted so much by a sports event. Maybe it is because it began as the season of Lent was getting underway. Maybe it was just that I needed something to relax me in this challenging season. Whatever it is, I have been impressed.
The commitment of these athletes, their endurance and stamina which comes through discipline and perseverance is incredible. For love of the game they are willing to endure incredible pain and suffering. Some performed with broken bones and massive bruises. Others like Belle Brockhoff had just recovered from major injuries they chose to ignore because of their desire to reach their goal and walk away with a gold medal.
They are also willing to fail. I was fascinated to learn that the judges gave higher marks in many events to those who tried the most difficult jumps and fell than they did to those who chose simpler jumps. To try for the best even if you don’t make it is very important.
As I watched them I wondered: If athletes are willing to endure so much in order to compete for a medal in the Olympics, why is it so hard for me to persevere with my spiritual disciplines? Why don’t we, as followers of Christ have the same level of commitment?
Not surprisingly the scripture that comes to mind is Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
We are indeed surrounded by a cloud of 2,000 years of persevering witnesses who have run incredibly disciplined races. The results of their commitment still enriches our lives today.
What I am challenged with today is to prayerfully consider what disciplines I must persevere with during this season of Lent that will enable me to reach my goal of a deeper and more loving relationship to God and God’s world. What setbacks and pain am I willing to endure because of my commitment to this goal?