Few activities excite us more than watching our favorite athletes speed across the finish line or win the big game and accept the prize, right? Yes and no. While cheering one athlete on to victory exhilarates us, waiting in hushed silence to see if another fallen or injured athlete can muster the resolve to finish the race stirs something deeper—and more meaningful—inside us.
Because the win, while sweet, is not the point. In the February 1994 Reader’s Digest John E. Anderson described two such moments that reveal something about our deeper sense of what it means to win.
“The 1992 Summer Olympics featured two tremendously poignant moments. American sprinter Gail Devers, the clear leader in the 100-meter hurdles, tripped over the last barrier. She agonizingly pulled herself to her knees and crawled the last five meters, finishing fifth—but finishing.
“Even more heart-rending was the 400-meter semifinal in which British runner Derek Redmond tore a hamstring and fell to the track. He struggled to his feet and began to hobble, determined to complete the race. His father ran from the stands to help him off the track, but the athlete refused to quit. He leaned on his father, and the two limped to the finish line together, to deafening applause.”
A father helping a fallen son limp across the finish is the quintessential picture of the Christian life. Sports have done much to teach us about the perseverance and teamwork needed to complete the event. It is only because of the crown of thorns that Christ willingly wore that we can receive the crown of life. Only because of His willingness to stumble up the hill to Calvary can we one day rejoice as victors in heaven.
In this issue of Kindred Spirit several of our graduates and students who are accomplished athletes or professionals in the field of athletics share with us the parallels between what they have done and what Paul described in Philippians 3:13–14: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
As we listen in on the spirit and the passion of these athletes, let’s remember that no matter how many hurdles we trip over and no matter how many races we fail to finish, our heavenly Father will always come down from the stands and help us complete what only He, Himself, began. All we have to do is lean on Him. “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).