American figure skater Jeremy Abbott came to the Sochi Olympics sporting an impressive pedigree. As four time US National champion and current title holder, he was considered to be in contention for a medal for the Men’s skating title that was held last week. However, that dream evaporated in an instant when the blade of his skates grabbed on the landing of his under-rotated quadruple toe loop, sending him hard to the ice and crashing into the padded wall. As he lay on the ice clutching his hip in obvious pain for 10-20 long seconds, most everyone expected that his performance was over. But, to the surprise of all the onlookers, Jeremy righted himself, cleared his head, and completed the remainder of his routine almost flawlessly!
He finished the night in 15th place.
When asked about the fall in the post-competition interview, he said, “I didn’t know what to think at first.” But inspired by the supportive crowd, he regained his determination. “I don’t care if I’m two minutes late,” he told himself, “I don’t care what happens with the rest of this. I’m going start to finish. I’m not going to give up this moment.”
As I watched his performance, I couldn’t help but see important parallels that are applicable to believers.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
Skaters fall. So do Christians. When you land hard because of a mistake or deliberate sin, resist the temptation to lay there and nurse your bruises. Just because you hit the ground doesn’t mean it’s over. The faster you get up, the more in sync you’ll be with the music and the more time you’ll have to accomplish something beautiful. So acknowledge your failings to the Lord, accept His pardon, then stand up and move on. And here’s the important part: Learn from your mistakes so you don’t hit the same wall again.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-
Jeremy credited the enthusiastic crowd for spurring him to continue with his program. You also need a similar kind of backing when your feet don’t land right. However, guilt and/or embarrassment can tempt you to withdraw from others. Grieving over failures narrows your perspective, and isolation only magnifies your tunnel vision. When you don’t feel like inviting others into your awkward situation, do it anyway. Deliberately opening yourself to the patient and willing involvement of faithful friends can be instrumental in retraining you to lift your eyes and steady your feet.
Seize the Moment.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. – Ephesians 5:15-17
A lot of things can happen to an athlete between one Olympics and the next. Some who plan to return won’t be back next time. That’s why they have to give it their all now. Some opportunities come only once in life for you too. If you allow a lack of discipline to sideline you now, a second chance may never come. That’s why sin is so harmful. It’s more than a bad choice; It’s a distraction from God’s purpose and an interruption to His plan for your life. A commitment to godliness gives you a single-mindedness that opens the door for you to walk in and partake of God’s best blessing.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8
I’ve been reading through First and Second Kings recently, and have taken note of how many people started out well, but ended poorly. The same pattern existed in a lot of folks in New Testament too. However, Paul is an exception. As a persecutor of Christians, he didn’t start out so well, but after he met the Lord, he committed himself to follow Christ fervently, and eventually finished his race strong. That can be your story too. No matter what kind of self-inflicted or accidental bumps and bruises you have, Christ offers you a fresh start. (2 Cor. 5:17) While living a life set apart for Him won’t be without its scars, He will always be by your side to coach you to the next step in a life of faithfulness that will one day result in a “crown of glory that will never fade away.” (1 Peter 5:4)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.