The games are over. The winners have gone home with their medals, the losers with their shattered dreams. Watching the Olympics, I was impressed when the underdogs won and thrilled when Canadians did well, but there was something that impressed me more than the exciting wins. I was impressed with how so many of the young men and women responded to their failures.
Some expressed regret, even understandable anguish, but few of them whined, few of them blamed coaches or judges, most of them showed a level of maturity that was admirable. Perhaps the most memorable was Alex Despartie, Canada's golden boy in the diving competitions. At just nineteen years of age this young man came close to winning a medal, but ended up fourth. He could have sulked, he could have been angry. Instead he told the commentator he looked forward to future competitions. Before the camera shut down after the interview, it caught him putting his fingers to his lips to salute the winners with a sharp whistle.
Another athlete who missed the mark said, "I'm disappointed in myself, but it's not the end of the world." That comment shows remarkable perspective. It speaks of a person who knows character isn't just determined by how well you live, and identity isn't just bound to how well you do.
It's easy to lose that perspective. We can become so involved in our careers, our families, even our hobbies, that when we fail in some way, we see ourselves as worthless. God wants us to have a better perspective. He wants us to realize our character and very identity is not determined by how well we do in the pursuits of life, but by the fact that we are created and loved by Him, designed to glorify Him. Our worth lies in that.
Jesus made this clear in every word he spoke and every act he initiated. He elevated those who were downtrodden, healed those who were crushed and reinstated those who were scorned. He didn't mind eating with prostitutes, touching lepers and chatting with tax collectors because they were His children, the objects of His love, the very reason why he moved resolutely to His death on a cross. Jesus loved losers.
When he was criticized for this, he responded: "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick ... I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:12)
Most of us would be losers if we tried to compete against the Olympians. We are all losers, we are all sinners, when we compare ourselves to the glory of God. But if we have accepted that Jesus died for us, God will not see the diseased results of our prostitutions, our leprosies, our larcenies. He will see the sacrifice of His son and we will be whole in His sight.
That's what I call going home with the gold.
Marcia Laycock is a pastor's wife and freelance writer living in Alberta Canada. Her devotional book, The Spur of the Moment has been endorsed by Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and others. To order, and to view more of Marcia's writing, see her web site - www.vinemarc.com
Copyright Marcia Lee Laycock, 2000, 2001,2002,2003,2004