“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”   1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Swimmers take your marks…

Their pulse quickens as they step up onto the cold blocks.  They look out over the surface of the softly swaying water, the pungent bleach odor filling their noses.

Get set…

They take a deep breath as they bend, fingers curling around the sharp metal edge.  The crowd hushes as they stand anticipating the start.  Senses heighten as their heart pounds in their chest, the water lapping the pool ledge unaware of the storm approaching.

CRACK!!

The gun screams “go!” and eight swimmers dive head first into the cool water.

2012 marks the 30th summer Olympics, and I swear it was 30 years ago that I dreamt I would be an Olympian.  I was a swimmer and I could just imagine myself in a race.  Hearing the crowd scream upon my finish.  Standing atop the podium leaning over while a medal is slipped onto my neck, a bouquet placed in my arms.  Hearing the National Anthem play while Old Glory is lifted.

It was a lofty dream.  I was never very good swimming competitively.  I loved it and could stay afloat but I wasn’t coming home with many blue ribbons.

With the London 2012 Games in full swing, I find myself in awe once again of the athletes; specifically the swimmers.  Their drive and self-control to push through the rigorous training they endure; strict diets, tireless laps, flip and push off drills, specific weight regimen, countless competitions, mental strength and focus.

The Bible tells us we are to live our lives like that of an athlete.

“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”   1 Corinthians 9:25 (nasb)

We are to remain steadfast and focused on the prize.

We are to put in the hard work that is expected of us.

We are to sacrifice for a bigger reward.

“in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”   2 Timothy 4:8 (nasb)

Even now as I watch the swimmers I find myself tensing my muscles, pointing my toes and holding my breath until the wall is touched and the winner revealed.  I long to jump in and swim.

I am however a realist and fully aware how ridiculous I would look should I attempt it, so instead I will live my life in such a way that my God will be pleased.  I will try my hardest.  I will keep my eyes on what is really important, focus on the finish and do my very best.

And even though I may end up in last place according to the world’s standards, if I stay true to what I know is right, I look forward to the day that my Coach, my Master, my God will say…

“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”   Matthew 25:23

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