Saturday, February 15, 2014

I’m glad God’s plan is nothing like the Olympics


We, like many of you, have been mesmerized by the Olympics all week, piling onto the couch each evening to watch athletes dressed in colorful outfits (mostly made of spandex) slide and glide and flip and twist and soar.  We have been amazed by the athleticism, touched by the beauty, and inspired by the determination. 

We have also, on occasion, been heartbroken.

This morning I watched the American skeleton competitor go for his last run, a sure contender for a medal of some color.  Instead of the run that everyone expected his sled runner came out of the groove in the ice, destroying his chances in that one split second.  He was left to do damage control, sliding over the ice for almost 2 minutes at close to 80 miles per hour, devastated and yet having to go through the motions in order to get safely to the end.  Only to be greeted at the other end by a reporter (just doing his job) who stuck a microphone into his dejected face and asked questions despite the fact that the athlete was on the verge of tears the whole time. 

I thought in that moment how glad I am that when I crash and burn in my life, there is no one waiting to interview me when what I want most is to crawl into a hole somewhere and cry.

And then I started thinking about how glad I am that God’s plan is nothing like the Olympics.

In the Olympics, people specialize, sometimes at very young ages, and spend all of their time and ALL OF THEIR MONEY on that particular thing.  God’s plan usually allows us to experience so many different parts of life.  God’s plan gives us times and seasons—some long, some short, but such a beautiful variety.

In the Olympics the pool of competitors has been selected in each country from a bigger pool of contenders.  Those contenders come from a larger pool of hopeful athletes.  All over every country countless little ice skating girls are practicing every day supported by family and coaches in hopes of being the one.  But in the end only a few will make it.  Life isn’t like that at all.  We all get to try our best, and no one person’s success prevents any other person from also being successful. 

In the same way, in the Olympics the smallest of margins separate the winner from the not-winners.  Four hundredths of a second is enough to keep you from receiving recognition, glory, and a medal.  In almost every competition there are the three medal winners and…well…no one really thinks about the other people who have given their lives in an effort to excel in this sport—we usually don’t hear about them.  In God’s plan there is no tiered podium, no limited supply of medals, no fading into obscurity because of a miniscule shortfall.  In God’s plan every single person can be a winner.  Every one.  One big wide podium for us all.

In the Olympics circumstances outside of their control can prevent an athlete from being able to do their best.  A slushy half-pipe, a skeleton track that’s not quite deep enough, a pulled muscle.  These unanticipated problems can turn a medal contender into an also-ran, or into someone who’s not able to compete at all.  Sometimes life is like this too.  Sometimes one person is able to better deal with a difficult circumstance than another.  Sometimes someone seems to be sidelined by a difficult situation or injury.  The difference is that God, in His omniscience and mercy, knows and understands this.  And instead of saying “too bad you’re not good at snow-boarding on a slushy half pipe” He in His mercy is able to take into consideration each person’s unique circumstances.  He knows the desires of our hearts, He knows our difficulties, and He will judge us accordingly.

In the Olympics a lack of funding can prevent you from participating…

In the Olympics a competitor can crash and take you out of your race with them…

In the Olympics, if you fail spectacularly, or even just fail when you were expected to excel, you know you have a reporter waiting at the end, invasive in your most painful moment.  In life when you fail spectacularly you can turn to God to find peace and comfort.  In life you can remember that there is no fail so spectacular that it takes you out of the game forever.  In life you can remember that even those who fail spectacularly can still succeed in the end.  That is the Good News of God’s plan.

And that’s better than an Olympic gold any day…


  1. Beautiful... My favorite part was imagining the 'one big wide podium for us all'

    1. Lindsay, as I was thinking through the whole thing and the image of a regular olympic podium came into my mind I loved "changing" it so that it fit everyone!