London 2012: Going Home a Loser?

While the roar of the Thirtieth Olympiad is still ringing in our ears, may I muse outside the box for a moment? Wouldn't it be nice if somebody could find a way to bring 10,500 of the world's athletically-inclined young to play together in these 26 sports and 39 disciplines without (and that's the key word) having to end up with so many who go home with no medal at all? But of course, just to be in the Olympic games is a huge accomplishment worthy of personal satisfaction and collective honor. But still, isn't it only human nature to categorize athletes in the "winners" or "losers" column? I'm thinking of Morgan Uceny—a hometown girl just a few miles south of us in Plymouth, Indiana. As David Woods of the Indianapolis Star put it: "This is the other side of Olympic glory. Half a lifetime of preparation [Morgan is 27], of dreaming, shattered in an instant." For years Morgan, Plymouth High School's #1 alumnus and a Cornell University graduate, has been training for this single race, the women's 1,500-meter sprint. Last Friday afternoon it seemed the whole town crowded in front of the school auditorium big screen to cheer their favorite young athlete. And Morgan ran in medal-winning time for 1,100 meters. Only 400 meters left to go. The crowd on both sides of the Atlantic roared. But then, according to the Tribune, "the back kick of a Russian runner struck the inside of Uceny's left knee," and she went down. Hard. In the final lap. The rest of the young women finished the race, while Morgan still down on her knees sobbed into the track. Her race unfinished, her Olympic hope dashed. Is there a medal for "almost"? "'I've never experienced such a heartbreaking moment,' she later said on her Facebook page....'As soon as it happened I knew it was over, and I couldn't control the emotions'" (South Bend Tribune 8-11-12). Who could? I doubt there's a way to eliminate winners and losers in any athletic game—it's what makes the game a game. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize [wins]? But then Paul offers a stunning word of hope for the "loser" in me: "But we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (2 Corinthians 9:24, 25 NIV). Timeout! Did you catch that "we"? Plural. Because in life's race to the Kingdom there is more than one winner. Many, many, many more! Nobody has to lose! The secret? "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:1, 2). You're a new freshman on campus—fix your eyes on Jesus (we'll help you do that here at Pioneer every Sabbath)—and you'll finish the race. You're a longtime runner in this marathon of life—same secret—keep your eyes on Jesus— and you, too, will finish the race. No matter our disastrous spills, if we want Him, the only perfect Runner will race beside us until we cross the finish line, too. Thanks to Him, Morgan and you and I can go home a winner.

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