What a time for sports in the US! Football is gearing up, the baseball pennant races are coming to a head, and the Rio Olympics are winding down. Many Americans are paying at least passing interest to what is going on in arenas or athletic fields or swimming pools both here and around the world. This morning after our Chinese worship service, we ate together as we always do. As I was leaving our meal, I was semi-monitoring a conversation among four young men/older men. The topics? The Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys. Nothing says America like Friday Night Lights unless you like college football which is played on Saturday or the NFL which competes mostly on Sunday. It won't be long now.
After lunch, as I crossed our courtyard, making my way to my car, I saw another small cluster of my Christian brothers and sisters, six I would guess although I did not stop to count. This group was also discussing the sports world, although the topic here was the Olympic Games, particularly the track events and specifically, I'm sure, the men's 4 x 100 relay. This is what I heard as I walked by:
"A slow exchange is a world class error."
Now, I'm not a big fan of track and field although I did high jump a little bit in high school. What I know about the current state of sprinting can be summed in two words: Usain Bolt. And yet my interest was piqued by what I picked up in those few seconds. I can't give you a complete roster of the six but I know two for sure: Mike Marsh and Michelle Finn Burrell. One of them had just spoken and one of them was about to speak. Those names might ring bells. Both Michelle and Mike won GOLD MEDALS in the 4 x 100 relays in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where Mike also won gold in the 200 meters. (It should also be noted that Michelle's husband, Leroy, also was on that men's relay gold medal squad AND twice broke the world record in the 100 meters. Safe to say we have the most accomplished track congregation in Houston!) So, when Mike and Michelle discuss passing batons on relay exchanges on the world stage, it would behoove us to pay attention. And I never ran in a relay in my life.
With the advent of social media and talk radio, many people, usually cloaked in anonymity, fancy themselves as experts in all things athletic. Those who have competed at the highest level, who know the highs and lows, the techniques and the pitfalls, the exhilaration and the agony- that's who I want to hear. The same goes for our day to day existence in an increasingly complicated world. Don't give me some theoretical mumbo jumbo. Let me hear some survivor stories, especially in the spiritual realm. Give me the witness of the former addict or criminal or prodigal, who turned his or her life over to Jesus. That's why we can relate to Judah and David and Rahab and Bathsheba, who overcame tribulation and heartache and still found their way into the family tree of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They may have dropped the baton but they never were disqualified. They kept running the race and we can gain the crown their lineage made possible. That's the best victory of all. And you don't have to be fast to win.
Applicable quote of the day:
If life truly is a relay, then it’s time to rethink everything—not only how we raise our own children, but how we disciple others in our neighborhoods, churches and communities. I believe this is the most important cause of our age. The next generation is poised, hand outstretched, eyes down the track, adrenaline pumping. Will we make the pass? The answer, in large part, is in our hands.
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