Well, it’s that time again where I get to spend two weeks watching random sports about which I know nothing. That’s right, boys and girls; say hello to the Olympics! I kid you not, I once watched over an hour of a speed walking competition during the summer games. I’ll never get that hour of my life back.
Actually, one of the reasons I love the Olympics is because it reminds me of the time when I volunteered as a coach for the Special Olympics. When in college, I met a few people who connected me with that awesome organization, and I spent the next few years working with them. In fact, while Penny and I volunteered together when we were engaged and newly married. I can’t begin to describe what a blessing it was to work with dozens of developmentally delayed men and women through sports.
Let me share with you the motto of the Special Olympics: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Take a second and read that again slowly. Not only does that motto perfectly capture the heart of the athletes who compete in the games, but it also serves as a great reminder for all of us as we face each day.
Laura was one of the athletes I remember the most from my coaching days, a young woman with Down Syndrome. Laura was in her mid-twenties and had participated in Special Olympic events for several years. In fact, she was a part of many of the different sports I helped coach – softball, basketball, and bowling. However, her favorite sport was track and field, and her specialty was the 100-meter dash.
We took a team to the State tournament every year, and Laura would work so hard and be at every practice as we got ready for the competition. I wish I could tell you that when Laura would finally get to her big race that she would blast past the competition, but that was never the case. Some of her physical handicaps kept her from ever being able to go much faster than a walking speed; therefore, she never came in first place. But what stands out to me about Laura was that she was always “brave in the attempt.” She competed to the best of her abilities, not focusing on who was in front of her or behind her, simply seeking to run the race set out before her. No matter where she placed as she crossed the finish line, I never saw anything but a huge smile on her face.
Can you say that you have an attitude like Laura’s when it comes to running the daily race that God has set before you? If you struggle with that, as I often do, listen to what God’s Word has to say.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, ESV)
This was the motto God gave to the Israelites when they were facing a huge challenge, and these words encourage me as I face the challenges of each day. To know that God is with me wherever I go is a powerful and also humbling thought. I don’t need to fear the things before me or get anxious about the things around me, for God is with me, wherever I go.
I wish I could say that I win my race each day, but I don’t. Sometimes I stumble and fall. Sometimes I get too focused on those who are ahead of me or behind me. Sometimes I just don’t feel like running. Maybe that’s how you’re feeling today. I fully realize that I may not be successful in everything I do, but I do want to be brave in the attempt.
Today, please join with me in looking to Christ today to find strength and courage to keep running the race. Let’s get back up when we fall, and celebrate and encourage those who are running with us. Most importantly, let us not forget that as we run, God is right there with us, wherever we go.