Sunday night, the torch passed from Tokyo to Paris. These games presented an unusual mix of solemnity and celebration. Athletes shattered world records inside empty stands. Meanwhile, our world set records for fires, floods, and losses from a pernicious pandemic. Which is why most mornings Dean Robert led his Garden Congregation to pray for Tokyo and the Olympic Games, as well as troubled places around the world. A daily call to balance reality with hope.
While I love these Games, the stories behind the athletes linger longer than medal counts. Remember Simone Biles? She stood for more than individual medal counts. In a world rife with troubles, Simone represented something we needed more than another golden moment for Team USA. She reminded us that real life’s more about mettle than medals.
Mettle’s a word Jud’s mother used. She valued, but also exhibited the trait. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Mettle’s the ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.” Jud learned well from his mother, and I learned from Jud as he faithed his final days.
The world watched Simone demonstrate “the ability to cope well with difficulties.” She withdrew from most events, but cheered from the sidelines. For all who suffer in silence, she exhibited courage on a global platform. Simone spoke truth about the importance of mental health and modeled self-care as anything but selfish. In the end, she won a bronze medal for her performance on the balance beam. But for herself and many others, Simone is a Gold Mettle winner.
But most of us will never get close to the Olympics, much less compete in one. However, all of us know Gold Mettle winners. The Bible contains many stories of ordinary men, women and children who exhibited mettle. Imagine if we took our focus off our need and quest for individual recognition. What if we chose to honor the folks who fell down but got back up? How many points for faithfulness in everyday life? Kindness? Resiliency? Truthfulness?
Well, these are sobering, yet hopeful thoughts. And according to the Bible, the life of faith is like a race. (Hebrews 12:1, NLT) So, look around. Know any runners who need a Gold Mettle award? A shoulder to lean on? Maybe a cup of water? A hand out or a lift up? Maybe a song? I take courage from faith-full runners like these. “We are pressed on every side by troubles but we are not crushed and broken… perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit… hunted down but God never abandons us. We get knocked down but we get up again and keep going.”(II Corinthians 4:8-9, NLT)
The life of faith’s both individual and a team endeavor. We need Jesus and each other to make it to the finish line. For sure, life’s more about mettle than medals.
Ready to keep on?
Heaven’s cheering us on.
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