The discipline of winning

Watching the Winter Olympics on television has increased my respect for dedicated athletes.

Just four years ago at the Turin Olympics, Maelle Ricker crashed while competing in a snowboard event and had to be airlifted to hospital with a serious concussion.  A few days ago, she won the gold medal in her event after years of hard training.

Yesterday, I heard of a Slovenian cross-country skier who fell into a gully a couple of days ago, breaking five ribs and suffering a collapsed lung.  She got out of the gully and continued skiing.  A couple of events later, she won a bronze medal.

These Olympic athletes were ready to give everything up for the joy of winning a medal.

Do I care about Christ that much?

The writer of Hebrews dealt with this issue in a famous passage in Hebrews 12:1-3.  Using the picture of a race, he tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

If that were all he said, I would nod my head.  But inwardly, I would groan because I know that I don’t have what it takes to run the race successfully and with perseverance.  Rules and regulations are not much of an inspiration for me.

But, thankfully, the writer of Hebrews does not stop there.  He tells me to look to someone bigger than myself – Jesus Christ.  I am to fix my eyes on Jesus who is the “author and perfecter of our faith”.  Jesus gave me the faith I have and he is perfecting it.

Why did Jesus go through so much more than the Olympic athletes – and I – ever have?  He did it for the “joy set before him”.  What joy?  The joy of an eternity with those he loves most – the Father, Holy Spirit and you and me and other believers.  This is more than the passing joy of winning an Olympic medal – it is an eternity of triumphant joy.

So, the writer of Hebrews concludes by saying in verse 3 that I need to consider what Jesus went through to achieve this crowning joy.  If he can do it, I can do it, because Jesus is within me.

And I will want to win the prize because I am learning more and more how much he loves me.

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