This morning our Pastor's sermon was on how deep and wide is the Love of Christ.
The last couple of days I have been watching some of the Winter Olympics. This is very unlikely, as I never watch the Olympics or any other sports, aside from the occasional football game or figure skater. What makes it even possible that this has occurred is that we recently finally bought a 32" flatscreen HDTV. It is in our living room. Normally we do not have a television in our living room. However, the flatscreen is actually pretty small and unobtrusive. Also, this way I can do my workout dvds on the hardwood floor, and possibly utilize some of the Spanish and/or nature shows for homeschooling. But my point is, that we got this TV about a week ago, just in time for the Olympics; and since it's still kind of a novelty I have moseyed over to check out the action.
The first thing I noticed was how beautiful the setting is. Much as I hate winter, the sparkling wonder of snow-covered mountains and trees, the blinding white quiet expanse is really breathtaking. There, in the middle of what seems to be uninhabitable cold weather majesty, are people--participating in outdoor winter games. I was reminded once again of how ignorant I am of what's going on outside my own little world. I would have easily blown off even glancing at or hearing anything about the Olympics. I just wouldn't care about such things...but for the timely arrival of the HDTV.
What struck me then possibly even more than the scenery were the athletes themselves. Their spandex-like suits reveal the most toned, trained, muscular, strong, perfect bodies I have ever seen. I mean, these bodies are not just sculpted to look good. They are controlled athletic machines, formed to a purpose. It was so uplifting to watch the ski jumpers soaring through the air in perfect form. The whole thing brought back childhood dreams of flying.
Then came the speed skating. Wow, does that look dangerous, and strenuous. I was getting exhausted just watching these guys. But it didn't end--they just kept going, around and around at top physical pressure the whole way. I was truly amazed at what I saw, that anyone could have such control, such skill, such endurance to perform in a way that seemed superhuman to me. Then came the ski racing--fantastic! And appearing even more difficult than the speed skating.
I thought to myself, "All these people, training so hard for this, devoting so much time and energy and focus...and I didn't even know it was happening. I had no idea people did such wonderful things." It is kind of like when you read something that is so well-written, so insightful, so intelligent...or when you see some unbelievable artwork, like what goes around on the internet of insanely complex sidewalk chalk drawings, or when you hear a piece of music that grabs your soul and wrings it out. I was touched deeply.
But I was also troubled. I felt, I feel kind of like a loser. Because I have never applied myself to anything in remotely one tiny percentage of the way that these people have. I mean, look what people, human beings like me, can achieve! What have I ever achieved? I get excited about doing a few sit-ups & push ups. I feel proud if I do a little aerobics. Or finish some small project. I mean, that's not bad...it's just that when you're young and you have your whole life ahead of you you think that someday you will have climbed some kind of mountain...but now I look back and there has been so much time wasted. I have spent my days ignoring the Olympics and hiding from any possibilities by just being busy with stupid things, or undisciplined, or lazy.
I find it heartening that it was at this exact moment, on this day, that I arrived at a point in a study I am doing where I was directed to begin reading John Piper's "A Hunger for God," particularly the introduction. The book is about fasting. The introduction is about many things, but one idea which struck me was the thought of disciplining myself through the spiritual exercise and physical work of fasting. Listen to the Apostle Paul:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.--I Cor. 9:24-27
I feel like God is telling me something. That it is time for me to persevere.