“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9 ESV
This last week, I’ve been watching the Olympics with my family. It’s a ritual we wait years to enjoy. This year, our wait has paid off. The athletes seem to be pushing themselves farther than I’ve ever seen in order to stand on that podium to receive their payout for the years of hard work and the endless hours of training and competing.
Watching highlights of the Olympic games while working out at the gym is not the same as watching on the couch in my sweats. In my house, I get to watch my kids pretend they are the athletes competing. But in the gym, I fool myself into believing that if I just run a little faster or lift a little more weight, I too could be an Olympian performing super human feats. Luckily my lungs and shins don’t always agree with me.
Someone once said, “A flower does not think about competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” This wisdom is as true on a snowy mountain in Pyeongchang as it is in a steamy gym in Van Nuys.
Since the very beginning, Olympians have always competed on a much higher level. And to get there, these athletes have to live in a world where faith must stand above raw talent, bodily strength, or technical skill. Faith is the one thing that pushes them off the platform in the first place.
While it might be passion that allows them to take the risk, it’s faith that motivates them to get up after a fall and do it again. An athlete, or anyone, can look back to see where they made the mistake, but it is faith that moves us forward towards the joys and gold of life.
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wisely said, “Life must be lived forwards, even though it can only be understood backwards.” That is faith – jumping towards the gold.
At times, Lent feels like an athletic competition. First, it requires hours of working out our spiritual muscles and conditioning our soul for the greater challenge. Second, no one truly succeeds right out of the gate so faith has to take the driver’s seat until you’re up to speed.
Most importantly, one must always jump! Lent calls us all to take the risks by leaping out with the One who can and will catch us and guide us to where we need to go. That takes faith more than it does anything else.
Faith assures us if we tumble to the ground, God is there to pick us up. If we hit a wall, God is there to show us a way around it. If we cross the finish line, God is there too – celebrating in our tears of joy.
Take this day to practice something you may have given up on or are having trouble overcoming. As you do, leap into the arms of God with faith and trust that you will one day be standing on the platform having earned the gold that await you.
“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible. And suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Asissi
Prayer: Lord, help me to live faithfully as I jump forward into your loving heart in all that I do. Amen.