The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ended last weekend. My family and I couldn’t get enough of them! For the most part, our family enjoys sporting events and when the Olympics rolls around every two years (summer/winter), we watch, cheer, and “oo & ah” on a nearly daily basis. You’ve got to hand it to the Olympic athletes – here are people who have trained much of their life for this moment (or in the case of the 50K cross-country skiers – an hour and 45+ minutes). I always feel bad for the skater who falls on her first triple-axle during the long free program or the speed skater who is nudged on the first turn and goes sprawling into the boards. They have trained for countless hours for this moment.
I admire the Olympic athlete in any sport. They train and train – countless hours are spent honing their muscles, their balance, their strength, their resolve – all with one goal in mind. They want to win to stand on the medal podium. Hear their nation’s anthem. Make their country proud. Win the gold medal. A very noble pursuit indeed. I applaud every athlete from this recent Winter Olympics.
But I couldn’t stop thinking of a certain phrase of Scripture in which the Apostle Paul refers to some type of Olympic Games in I Corinthians 9:25, Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. Paul is not denying, denigrating, or demeaning the efforts of the Olympian. No, he just puts it into perspective. And what a perspective for the Christian! Verse 24 we are admonished to run, that ye may obtain! In verse 26, Paul tells you what he is going to do. Whether you join him or not he says, I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.
“Why in the world am I doing this?”
“I feel pretty good right now!”
“I feel like I am going to die.”
“That was a great run.”
“That was a…well, rather exhausting run.”
“I feel like I could run for miles!”
“I feel like I couldn’t run for another ten feet!”
Anybody that has picked up running as a sport has felt and expressed all of the above statements and more. Growing up, I played nearly every sport imaginable: soccer, basketball, football, floor hockey, tennis, racquetball, hacky-sack (is that a sport?), skiing, snowboarding (a bit), biking, etc. And although many of these sports involve running, some of them quite extensively, running is not the goal. It is one of the many components of that sport.
I have been all over the map concerning resolutions or goals (I prefer the word goals) for a New Year. Some years, I set very concrete goals; others, I had no goals. And some years I had very generic goals (which are quite hard to measure). Closing out 2013 and charging into 2014, I have pondered the subject of setting goals for the New Year.
When I think of great men and women of the Bible, I cannot help but think that goals were a major part of the life of many of these people. Take Joseph, for instance. He had to be able to set goals and see those goals through to fruition as the second in command of Egypt while gathering grain and corn during the seven years of plenty. Solomon set goals for both the building of the temple of God and his own house. I am absolutely convinced that the apostle Paul was a goal-setter. He did not wander aimlessly going wherever his journeys led him. He was a man of passion for the Lord Jesus Christ and set high goals in starting churches and visiting the churches he started during the various missionary journeys he took. Philippians 3:14 is often quoted in support of setting a goal – I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
We were challenged to run a 5K by Automattic (owner of WordPress.com) several weeks ago. Since February, my wife and I have been running 2-3 times a week as we prepare for a 10k in early June. Although we are both athletic and play sports here & there, we have never consistently tried “running” as a sport.
Running has become a real joy to the both of us. We enjoy being together, getting in shape together, and the sense of accomplishment when done running. We have been running anywhere from 1 to 5 miles when we go out and usually run Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
This past Tuesday, we officially ran the 5k that would count for Automattic’s challenge. We ran it at Stephens Park in Schererville, Indiana and ran it in a time of 28 minutes. That is an average of 9 minutes, 20 seconds a mile – not bad for our first official 5K!