I have been watching the Olympics. Obsessively. I can’t remember a prior year that I have been so swept up in Olympics fever. Maybe that’s because most years I haven’t had as much time as I have had lately to just sit and watch. But now I am binge-watching these athletes whom I had never heard of before and will likely not hear about again until it’s time for the next summer Olympics.
The fascination is more than just wanting to cheer on my country. It is watching these young men and women (and I do mean young! Never have I felt so much that life has passed me by than to see these Olympic contestants who are barely out of high school!) who have prepared for four years to be here for a race that may last only minutes.
We do not see their months of hard practice, their strict diet, the muscle pains, or the sweat. We do not see the sacrifices that they have made to be there. Very few Olympic athletes get there by accident; rather, the competition is the culmination of a carefully planned regimen.
As Paul says,
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Cor 9:25 (NIV).
As I am approaching my wedding celebration, I feel that I am nearing the end of my “race” as a single person. Make no mistake – I am ending a sprint to now begin the marathon of marriage. But here too, people will see just the culmination of the past year and a half of dating, and 33 years of singleness.
The closer that one gets to the finish, the easier it is to give in to temptation, to relax, to not be so strict. Aren’t we close enough to the end? Haven’t the years of sacrifice been enough?
And yet Olympic athletes do not throw in the towel on their training right before the competition. They do not decide that all of their training has been enough and they can sit on the couch and eat chips for the final month. No, they continue right to the end for a strong and well-deserved finish.
Are you finishing your race well or have you grown tired?