Spiritual Side Lisa Jisa

The Summer Olympics begin in London at the end of July. I love watching athletes from all over the world gathered together in competition. The dedication and devotion it takes to get to the Olympics is astounding.

Hands down, my favorite Olympics has to be the 1980 Winter Games. It was exhilarating to live in Madison, Wis., while watching the U.S. Hockey team win gold and hometown boy Eric Heiden win five gold medals.

A friend and I were so inspired that we joined the Madison Speed Skating Club the following season.

Ummm....yeah.

Well, we had fun, anyway, and I even got my name in the paper for placing third in one of our races (don’t ask me how many people were in that race).

The Olympic Creed has appeared on the scoreboard at the Opening Ceremony since the early 1900s. Written by Baron de Coubertin, it states: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”

These amazing athletes who have dedicated their lives to training know all too well that there is only one gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in each event. Hopefully they are content with doing their best, no matter what the outcome.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul says, “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.”

What is this crown? It’s eternal life. Most Olympic athletes have just one chance to get a medal, but anyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus will be rewarded with eternal life. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

How do we prepare for this victory? It’s very different “training” than it is for sports. Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (from Mark 9:35).

I am so motivated by stories about Christians of amazing character and perseverance. The movie “Chariots of Fire” was based on the story of Eric Liddell, the 1924 Olympic runner whose heat was to be run on a Sunday.

He refused to compete because he believed Sunday should be a day of rest and focusing on the Lord. He went on to set a world record and win the gold medal in a different race.

But that’s not all.

He left quite an example of a life surrendered to the Lord through subsequent years spent as a missionary in China. He died encouraging others in an internment camp, and his obscure gravesite was discovered in 1989. The glory from that gold medal didn’t last, but his eternal reward will last forever.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews12:1).

• Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at lisa.jisa@gmail.com.

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