Monday, January 18, 2016

Days Of Whine And Ski Poles

During the school year, I will show my classes pictures and videos my niece, Meagan, took during her many years working in a Christian orphanage in Zambia. We will speak about things not being fair and I will tell them what isn't fair is that we have wealth galore and they have unimaginable poverty. I hope you like this post from 3-16-06.
I'm in St. Louis with my parents. Dad had an appointment so I spent the afternoon with Mom. We watched Judge Judy. There are a number of these court type of shows but I like Judge Judy the best. I can't speak for her legal expertise but I love the way she handles the plaintiffs and defendants. She tolerates no excuses. Today's episode was a case of two boys who involved in an incident. One boy, a sixteen year old, had been arrested repeatedly, had quit school, was not working, and was sponging off his parents. In spite of all that, his father repeatedly defended him and made excuses for him. The man acknowledged that his son was imperfect but contended he was being treated unfairly. Judge Judy would have none of it. She was harder on the dad than on the boy who looks to be on the fast track to prison. I know it wasn't church but I had to add my AMEN to her lesson on that young man's road to destruction.

We are a nation of whiners. The NCAA basketball tournament begins tomorrow. It's considered by many to be the most exciting time in American sports. But much of the story line has centered around the perceived unfairness of the brackets: who has what seed, who got left out, who has to travel too far, etc. Today, I read about the New York Knick's best player, Stephon Marbury, and his coach, Larry Brown, sniping at each other in the media. Both are making $10 million per year yet they are being treated unfairly. What a joke. The key word now in sports is respect as in "nobody respects us!" The majority of professional and collegiate teams seem to play the respect card at least once a season. As John Stossel of ABC News is fond of saying, "Gimme a break!" Kids are increasingly displaying abhorrent behavior in athletic arenas and there is only one culprit: the adults who model and tolerate whining. It has robbed us in part of what makes athletics worthwhile- FUN.

The Winter Olympics concluded recently in Italy. I didn't watch. The Olympics ideally focus on athletes competing at the highest level on the world stage while representing their countries. Events which receive little recognition at other times have a moment in the sun. I'm not much of a skiing-skating-curling fan so I paid scant attention. One story did give me hope that all is not lost and there might be purity remaining to pass on to the next generation. In the women's cross-country skiing sprint relay, Canadian Sara Renner was cruising when her ski pole snapped. She began flailing when out of nowhere, a man appeared and handed Renner a replacement, allowing her to continue. Renner regained her composure and with teammate Becky Scott, captured the silver medal. The Canadian skier had no idea of the source of her replacement equipment which salvaged her effort. Post-race, it was revealed the pole came from Norway's coach, Bjornar Hakensmoen. Even though the Canadians were competing against the skiers he coached, Hakensmoen came to the rescue without hesitation. Where did the Norwegian team finish in the sprint relay event? Hakensmoen's skiers placed fourth or one spot out of being awarded a medal. Had he not intervened, Renner and Canada would not have claimed the runner-up position. As the result of his generosity, his team, his skiers, and his country came up empty at the gold-silver-bronze ceremony. You would expect the Canadians to heap praises and gifts on the Norwegian coach- they have. But he has been lifted up in his native land as well and honored for doing the honorable thing, even at the expense of his countrymen. 

I hope the reception would be identical in the US; I have doubts. We struggle with the win-at-all-costs mentality. In 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul uses an illustration of athletics when he reminds readers that to win the prize, we have to obey the contest rules. The remarkable aspect to me of Bjornar Hakensmoen is that he went beyond the regulations of what he was required to do. Isn't that what Jesus expects of us? The one question I detest in my classes when we do a writing assignment is "How much do I have to write?" I tell my students what they are really asking is, "What is the minimum effort I can put forth and not make an F?" That is the attitude we often possess in spiritual matters. This unknown coach taught me a lesson: Do the right thing and quit whining. In Philippians 2:14, Paul gives a pointed instruction: "Do everything without complaining." Do you think he was talking to us?

Applicable quote of the day:
"It takes a genius to whine appealingly."
F. Scott Fitzgerald

*To watch a VISA commercial commemorating the gesture, click or copy/paste here!

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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