Christians get do-overs

Olympic athletes don’t get do-overs

Japan’s gymnast “King” Kohei Uchimura had reigned supreme winning every world and Olympic title from 2009-2016 in the “all-around” that tests skills in six events. In last week’s Olympic competition, the king was instantly dethroned when he lost his grip on the horizontal bar and ended up sprawled out unceremoniously on the mat. After five years of training for this moment, his Olympic dreams were crushed in a split second.

Then on Sunday, two British runners were disqualified for jumping the gun. Zharnel Hughes, who was expected to medal, blamed his early spring on a cramp in his calf. “We went up on ‘set’, my left calf cramped up on me with the cramp I moved.” Soon after, Reece Prescod did so in his semi-final. Unlike Hughes, he offered no excuses. “It was my fault.” They too had been training for all their lives for this moment, and in less than a second found their dreams shot down by jumping the gun.

Writers get do-overs!

This is why I’m a writer and not an Olympic athlete. Okay, the biggest reason is that I’m a pudgy sixty-nine years old, but that’s the joy of being a writer. I don’t train my entire life to produce one winning article or book on the first draft. Unlike an Olympic athlete who has to “stick the landing” on the very first try, I can keep writing and rewriting until I perfect my “performance” as best I can. I cannot imagine the pressure to work an entire life time to get one chance at one time to get it right the first time. My heart dropped as Uchimura’s dreams flattened on the mat. And I felt so badly as the British runners tread the walk of shame back to the locker room. There was no rewrite. No resubmission of a rejected book proposal. No starting a new project next week.

Christians get do-overs

Best of all, Christians get do-overs. The ancient Olympics already had over 800 years of history, when the apostle Paul compared the Christian life to running, boxing and wrestling.

      Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

But unlike the Olympics, we aren’t racing for a fading laurel wreath awarded in the ancient games. And there is not only one winner!

Paul later wrote:

      I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7).

One mistake doesn’t disqualify a believer from eternity. I felt so badly for the disqualified athletes; for the hundreds of athletes’ one day in the sun was a bad day; the ones like the greatest of all time gymnast Simon Biles who sat out competitions due to mental health issues and the disorienting “twisties.”

Yes, it takes Olympic training and discipline to live a life pleasing to God, but the prize is not for the perfect, but for those who have accepted the forgiveness, adoption and regeneration of eternal salvation.

And like Olympic gold medalist, Jade Carey, we have our Father coaching us every step of the way to the finish. But we don’t have to stick the landing on heaven’s shore! Just fall humbly into the arms of Jesus!

Go for the gold!

Copyright© 2021 James N. Watkins

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