Thursday, August 11

The Olympic Hopeful and the Christian

Well, we did it. We loosened our grip on our beloved Alaska and reached across the continent to embrace a brand new place to call home.

We arrived in North Carolina one week ago, and I'm happy to report we're all in one piece and enjoying the vacation-like setting we're in right now before the realities of life including school, work, and moving into our home set in. I'm documenting over on Instagram (my favorite!) if you'd like to follow along.

Just a day or two after arriving, it was time for the Olympics to start. One thing you have to know about me is that I am what one might call an Olympic Games super-fan.

I love the thrill of the competition, the bright colors, and the excitement surrounding the Games. I love the family and friends in the stands, the years of dreaming and training, and the general buzz the Olympics creates. 

I get into the athletes' stories and highly respect their long years of hard work and dedication. 

The medal ceremonies have the power to choke me up, no matter what country you're from and what event you're competing in. You could be a Ukrainian shot-putter winning a gold medal and I just might shed a happy tear on your behalf. Maybe it's the dreamer in me, but I love seeing big dreams come true. 

All the way across the world, from my home with my family who thinks I'm a wee bit obsessive with my USA warm-up jacket my Dad scored at a thrift store for me, my Go Team USA parties, and my general willingness to veg out in front of the TV for weeks once every two years. It's a fun gig. The Olympics are so. much. fun. 

But before the Games even begin, you have to have the Olympic Trials. 

Can I just tell you I have a whole other set of feelings and love for the Trials? But here's the thing about the Trials:

An Olympic hopeful has a 0% guarantee they will make the team. Their beloved Olympic team, after all those years of pursuing it. 

There is no guarantee they will perform well. Anything could happen. An ankle could roll, a muscle could tear, or a sickness could overtake them. I'm not trying to be all Eyeore about it, but it's true. Depressingly true. 

Because I'm a great big Olympic nerd-fan, prior to the Games I found myself watching interviews with hopefuls who eventually went on to make the team, but were interviewed before actually being selected. I love stuff like that.

Here are some of the words and phrases these athletes were using before they competed to earn their spot. Notice the air of uncertainty.

"I just don't know."

"Anything can happen out there today."

"I can only hope all the years of sacrifice and training will pay off."

"I want to make my family proud and show them it was worth it."

"I am just going to give it my all and hope it's enough."

We've all spoken these sorts of words. Maybe not with a trip to the Olympic Games on the line, but we know how it feels to be so unsure of outcomes.

That exam we've studied an entire semester for.
That illness we're fighting.
That child who gives us an insane amount of grief.
That job interview.
That move across the country.

Yep, we know the feeling. Uncertainty is associated with any worthwhile endeavor. And I don't mean to Jesus Juke you here, but whenever I think of Olympic hopefuls and the inevitable truth that someone who has worked just as hard as the rest will walk away disappointed, I can't help but think of the contrast between these hopefuls and Christians.

An Olympic hopeful has zero assurance their dream will come true.

A believer in Christ has full assurance of eternal outcomes.

Christ-followers find acceptance with God through Christ no matter how hard we work. 

Christ's death and saving work on our behalf gives us confidence of God's welcome no matter how well we perform. 

Because of Jesus:

  • there is no guesswork after years of hard work
  • there are no dashed hopes
  • the dream always comes true

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us of this truth in chapter 10:19-23:

The only dream we can really place any hope in is our eternal dwelling with Christ. No matter what happens, no matter what disappointment takes hold and stays for what seems like forever, in Jesus there is no guesswork, no dashed hopes, and the dream always comes true.

That's something we can be sure of.