Find Me on Team USA at the Next Winter Olympics
Twizzles. Quads. 580’s. These strange words appear every 4 years and they can only mean one thing: The Winter Olympics.
Any other time, you’d never find me watching hours of parallel slalom skiing or ice dancing. But the Olympics? I’ll stay up until I’m bleary eyed to witness greatness. These athletes defy gravity and cheat death as they skate on razor-sharp blades, slide headfirst in the skeleton at breakneck speeds, and twist themselves 40’ into the air on a snowboard.
I paced nervously alongside my husband and son as I watched Shaun White achieve his 3rd Olympic Gold Medal in South Korea. When his put down a nearly flawless third run, I screamed like a maniac, “He did it! He did it!” A devastating fall and injury just mere months ago threatened to cut his Olympic hopes short – landing him in the hospital via helicopter and requiring 62 stiches to his face. The amount of grit, determination, and bravery it must have taken for him to get back on a snowboard is mind-boggling. And then to top it off with a Gold Medal? One of my favorite Olympic moments. Ever.
The Olympics were replete with heart-stopping, history-making moments.
Ester Ledecka, the Czech snowboarder, becoming the first athlete to win Olympic Golds in both skiing and snowboarding.
Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins, the women’s team sprint freestyle earning Team USA’s first-ever Olympic Gold Medal in that sport. And, Kikkan was the only mom on our Team. Go Moms.?
And Lindsay Vonn, making her final Olympic appearance after horrific injuries to capture a Bronze Medal.
As I witness Shaun, or Lindsay, or Ester, or Kikkan, I think for a split second, “I could do that. I could race downhill on skis like her. I think I’ll head to Massanutten and get in some practice runs. Next Winter Olympics, I’ll be boarding that plane with Team USA.”
What in the world would generate that fraction of sheer insanity? Because they make it look easy.
As they explode out of start gates, and glide gracefully down snow-capped mountains, they make the nearly super-human feats seem effortless. And me, a mere mortal, imagines for a moment that with enough practice and arduous work, I, too, could cross that finish line.
It’s ludicrous to think I’d ever wear a Team USA jacket or step foot inside the Olympic Village. But I can’t help wondering how often I attempt to tackle spiritual mountains with nothing more than a wing and a prayer.
See, success happens when preparation meets opportunity.
But far too often, we want to skim over or skip the preparation process altogether and just get on to the opportunity already. We do ourselves, others, and the kingdom of God a disservice when we forge ahead without the necessary preparation.
From the outside looking in, one might be tempted to believe David effortlessly picks up a slingshot and a stone to kill the most daunting military giant Israel had seen to date. He makes it look easy. Effortless. And we witness greatness and think…
“I could take him. Just give me a slingshot. I’ve got this.” But without preparation, that’s as much a recipe for disaster as putting my size 9 feet into ski boots and barreling down a mountain at 45 miles an hour.
Before David ever met Goliath, he prepared himself mentally, physically, and spiritually. He was physically strong, building his confidence over time by killing a lion and a bear to protect his sheep.
He was mentally tough, able to withstand when overlooked for battle by his own father for older, seemingly more qualified brothers.
And he was spiritually solid, his faith firmly grounded in a God He KNEW would deliver no matter what. When his preparation finally met opportunity, he rose to the occasion and God granted him success.
There just aren’t enough personal trainers on the planet to prepare this 49-year-old body to join Team USA. But I can prepare myself for the spiritual mountains God wants me to traverse. 17 days of Olympic glory taught me 3 critical components for spiritual success.
There is no substitute for discipline. After a sloppy year of Bible reading in 2017, I resolved to read the Bible through chronologically this year and I can see the difference it’s making in my life. Where is God prompting you to make a change in your spiritual preparation? Obey, and God will honor your commitment to discipline.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Some seasons require us to dig deep, putting in the blood, sweat and tears of perseverance. But listen to what Romans 5:3-5 tells us is a reward of persevering through the preparation process:
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Don’t allow the enemy to deflate your hope. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus no matter what is going on around you. You never know what come-from-behind, 11th-hour historic moment God is orchestrating for you and your family. Press into His faithfulness and place your hope firmly in His character.
Alas, we may never carry the Olympic torch or stand on a medal stand. However, we can honor God by committing to His process of training in our lives. We can spend time preparing for greatness. But here’s the clincher: let God define what greatness looks like for you: loving your family…serving your community…obeying His voice. And when preparation meets opportunity, you’ll be ready for your Goliath.
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What