If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again,
you are going to be a champion someday. ~ Wilma Rudolph
The year of 1996 marked my life with several milestones, two of them being college graduation and the summer Olympics.
On May 14, I turned the tassel on my graduation cap, graciously accepted my degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, and by the next weekend had moved from North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia in hopes of finding the perfect post-college job opportunity. Although I eventually landed my first job about a month later, I was more excited about another opportunity. All eyes were on Atlanta, the host city for the Centennial Olympic Games and I’d been chosen as a volunteer media intern. As a recent college graduate, “volunteer” wasn’t nearly as appealing as “paid” but sometimes experience can reap higher rewards.
My excitement for the opportunity was two-fold. Not only was I a burgeoning journalist, but I was (and still am) a track and field enthusiast. There are few things in life I regret, but one regret I have is not maximizing my athletic ability on those eight painted lanes.
In high school I had natural speed and won most of my matches with little or no effort. Still, I didn’t strive to do my absolute best on the track. I should’ve done more. Pushed myself. Tested my limits. Been more disciplined. Instead I shrugged off comments from my coach and was content to use my athletic ability as part of the checklist for extra-curricular activities for college admissions.
Any true and dedicated athlete who runs a race gives it their all. They sacrifice their bodies, train their minds, and perfect the fundamentals. For sprinters like Michael Johnson, who I had the privilege to watch run that summer, their moment of competition lasts for only a few seconds. Johnson crossed the finish line in 19.32 seconds to take the 1996 Olympic Gold medal for the 200-meter sprint. It was a world-record time, and he told a sports reporter at a major newspaper, “I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was one of the 85,000 fans in the stadium. I’m a track fan. I would like to have watched that myself.”
Sometimes we can even amaze ourselves!
Even though I missed my chance at an Olympic medal, I still run a race daily. I still have an opportunity to discipline my flesh and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling. If you’re going to run the race, you might as well win. Act like a winner. Like Johnson, you will realize that you’re worth watching. You may not think you’re the kind of person who can wake up early for prayer and devotion with God, but try to spend your lunch time reading His word. You may not be able to recite long passages of scripture by memory, but God will illuminate one scripture for you at the exact moment you need it for yourself or someone else.
I personally have two scriptures that push me to catch that second wind when I’m weary from running. Psalm 37:25 is more than words to me. It is life. “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.”
And when I was grappling with balancing a career and raising young children, God led me to Psalms 138:8: “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.”
Like the old (and not so old) folks say, “I believe I’ll run on and see what the end is gonna be!”
Discipline your flesh and your mind. Stretch your vision and your expectations. Strive to be perfected in Christ. On your mark…get set…GO! An Olympic gold medal may not be within your reach, but when God has tested you, you will surely come forth as gold (Job 23:10).
Stand On The Word
- Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. – 1 Corinthians 9:24
- I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3
- But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:24
You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. – Galatians 5:7-9
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-3
Think It Out. Write It Out. Walk It Out.
- Are you running strong in your spiritual race? If not, who or what is hindering your progress?
- What things do you do to keep your ‘spiritual muscles’ strong?
- Are you running to win?
This devotion is taken from “If These Shoes Could Talk,” a 30-day devotion for a women’s daily walk of faith, written by Tia McCollors. Read more devotions like this by CLICKING HERE.