|Michael Phelps Most Decorated Olympian Swimmer|
Then, of course there are the personal stories. To me, that's really at the heart of sports. The stories of the athletes and the adversity they have overcome, the hard work they've put into their sport, the emotional investment they've put into doing their best. I am moved by their patriotism. Not just the Americans, but all of the athletes. It is touching to see that everyone wants to represent their country with dignity, honor and by performing to the best of their capabilities. In that regard, when they return home whether they have medaled or not, they will be known as 'Olympic athletes' and they will have the gratitude of their nation for their service.
And then there is the matter of faith. It was especially noticeable for the American athletes. Gabby Douglass gained the most recognition, but so did Lolo Jones and others who praised God and credited Him for their opportunity to compete in the Games.
|Gabby Douglas falls off the balance beam|
And what about Gabby. I think all of our hearts broke a little when she didn't continue to win gold medals. Not only that, she fell off the balance beam! Suddenly, there were not as many posts repeating her praise "The Praise goes up to God; the blessings fall down on me...' Wasn't Gabby equally as blessed when she failed as she was when she succeeded?
I'm not talking about her attitude, I'm talking about ours...
My point is there were other Christians in participating in the Games who were not as vocal or as 'quotable' as were Lolo or Gabby. Dawn Harper (who won gold in the 100 meter hurdles in Beijing), for instance, whose life story was filled with challenges also thanked God for her silver medal, but no one seemed to be interested in calling her a role model.
At the same time Michael Phelps, in winning his 21st career Olympic medal and being extolled as the greatest Olympic athlete ever (for my money I still say it's Jim Thorpe - but that's another story), has never, to my knowledge, ever expressed faith in Christ or credited Him for victory. What, if anything does that say about God, victory and earthly honors?
Personally I think American Christianity acts like someone with some type of inferiority complex that suggests that the only way we can prove the merit of our faith is if we can find some type of 'winning example'; some Lolo Jones, some Tim Tebow, some, Gabby Douglas. Someone whose 'success' proves to the world that we can 'compete'. It usually ends up with us being embarrassed by some 'failure'. I remember a book on leadership written by a former pastor who lifted up Enron, as a company whose executives had excellent leadership values. Suffice it to say, the example doesn't stand the test of time - or arguably eternity.
The fact is in this life Christians don't always 'win', but we always win. It's just that for us, the victor's crown comes later...