Our son just competed in the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, FL. 22,000 athletes, coaches and families from all fifty states and the Caribbean islands came together for a week of hard competition in a wide variety of sports. We are proud to say our son won a gold, silver and bronze in his athletic events and division. Jeremy was the only one to wear braces on his legs to assist with running but these games are about abilities – NOT disabilities.
One of the t-shirts team Massachusetts wore says, “We understood the assignment”. Each athlete had been chosen last year to compete in these games based on previous competitions. They practiced as individuals and teams to get in shape for their individual sports and had their eyes on the big challenge ahead. No one goes to these games hoping just to be there and watch. The goal is to win a gold medal! And more than a years’ worth of planning and preparing went on behind the scenes to make it all happen.
The Christian life is described by the apostle Paul as a race or competition much like the Greek and Roman Olympics in the first century.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)
Unfortunately, I think most modern Christians treat their assignment like a walk in the park. We go about our daily lives enjoying the good around us and then get frustrated and respond poorly when unforeseen obstacles are in our path. I certainly have been guilty of this when I am not in “spiritual shape” and preparing for each day or week ahead.
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17 (ESV)
We are created in different sizes, shapes, backgrounds and God has given each of us different gifts and abilities to use for His glory. The Bible tells us He calls, prepares, equips and empowers us to live godly lives that will cause others to want to know Jesus. My assignment is to run the race He prepared for me day by day with purpose and intention. Purpose is the reason why I do what I do and intention focuses the attention needed to make things happen. Each day I must prepare myself with time in prayer and in His Word and also make extra time for training in the arena He has called me to live and work.
I love the Special Olympics athlete’s oath .
Obviously not everyone will obtain a gold medal and that’s alright. We aren’t given the same strength and abilities or assignment but everyone will be held accountable for how they use what they have. There are many questions we can ask ourselves to better our position. What obstacles or sinful habits stand in my way of success today? Did I prepare well this morning, week, month? Was I focused to do the best I could? If not, what attitudes, distractions or problems do I need to bring before The Lord and deal with? Endurance comes with practice, trial and error but never by giving up. Are you “all in” to run the race or are you just sitting by the sidelines?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (ESV)