The Olympics, races, and competition have so many parallels to our daily Christian walk. During these past two weeks of Olympic competition we have been able to share different verses and illustrations with our students. We have helped them make connections between God's word, our personal faith, and what so many athletes endure to be in the Olympics.
During one chapel I shared the story of Derek Redmond. Derek Redmond competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He was a British athlete, and a medal hopeful competing in the 400 metres. He already had faced disappointment during the 1988 Olympics after suffering an injury to his Achilles. Therefore in 1992 he was determined to finish, and do his best during those Olympic Games. He successfully finished his first round race with the fastest time, ran his quarter final race and was competing in the semi-finals when 250 metres from the finish his hamstring snapped. In intense pain he still managed to get up and hobbled along determined to finish the race. His determination amidst his extreme pain is inspiring on its own, but what happened next is what truly makes the moment memorable. His father makes his way through the stands and onto the track. He fends off security not letting anything get in the way from him getting to his son. He puts his arm around his son’s waist; they embrace, and together finish the race.
The footage of this race has been used in advertising campaigns by the International Olympic Committee, Visa and Nike. It is a story of courage. It is a story of perseverance and determination. It is a story that mirrors what true love between a father and his son can be.
I shared with the students that as a Christian, when I watch this video footage I see it as a beautiful illustration for each one of us. The Bible parallels our life on earth to an athlete running the race. Hebrews 12:1 says, "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Perseverance, as I would describe it to my students is the ability to keep going in spite of difficulty. Derek Redmond modeled perseverance in his determination to finish the race. We need to live our lives with the same perseverance. When we go through life we are going to have our moments of struggle and pain. We may feel it is hopeless and that we cannot possibly go on. We may struggle on our feet trying to continue on, and it may seem that it is just too much. It is then that we need to remember that we are not running the race alone. God is there running beside us. The Bible promises us that God will never leave us nor forsake us. Just as Derek’s father overcame all obstacles to be with his son, and support him to the finish, God is right beside us ready to see us to the finish as well.
There were tears in the eyes of some staff and students when I showed the video coverage of the race and told the story. I encourage you to watch if for yourself. A simple Google search will take you to several online choices. Watch it and think about your own spiritual race and journey.