The 23rd Winter Olympics ended on Sunday. With 2,800 athletes representing nearly a hundred countries, this was a huge, worldwide event. My family likes to watch the figure skating. As in, that’s pretty much the only thing we watch.
The other day we were watching the figure skating (of course) as Alina Zagitova, the tiny, 5’1, Russian girl, skated her way to a gold medal. I noticed that she was fifteen—literally three days younger than me. And here she was, on national television—probably international television—winning gold at the Olympics. I said to my family, flippantly, “That girl is my age… and I’ve done nothing.”
I was joking, but my mother responded with a very quick, “Are you kidding? She’s done nothing. She’s done nothing but skate and train her entire life.”
To which my father replied, “Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
I’m not saying anything against that young woman in the least—nor am I trying to say that her life has been wasted. This is simply a good example of the two most important things that the Olympics shows us: that worldly glory is fleeting, and that godly glory is much more valuable.
The Olympics is all about glory, and fame, and it is (by nature) very, very temporary. Think about it… do you even remember any athletes from the Winter Olympics four years ago? Or even from the Summer Olympics two years ago? I can remember about seven names… if I think really hard. And I don’t remember much besides that. I recognize some athletes that I see on cereal boxes… and then I totally forget about them and my life goes on.
And yet, this is where the world places all the glory. This is where the fame lies. This qualifies as a profitable life.
For years when I was younger, I used to be so wistful about the Olympics. It wasn’t that I was athletic and aspired to being as great at gymnastics or swimming or whatever as these celebrity athletes. Far from it—I am just abut the least athletic person on the planet. But the fame and the glory seemed so alluring… there was something special about these people in my young mind. The fame and glory seems so glamorous.
Which leads me to the second reminder that the Olympics gives us… that God’s glory far surpasses any earthly glory. It might be emotional to watch those athletes, standing on that podium, clutching a medal and crying as they hear their national anthem played. But as Christians, we have an awards ceremony coming up too. And I’m not just talking about rewards or prizes or whatever else in heaven. I’m also talking about the hope of heaven, and the glory that will be revealed in us there. I’m talking about treasures in heaven. I’m talking about hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Isn’t that the most wonderful prize that can be received? Doesn’t it surpass the fleeting, temporary prizes like gold and silver and bronze medals?
Yes, the Olympics is an example of fleeting rewards of this world. But I hope that it can also be a reminder of what Christians have to look forward to, this glory which far surpasses anything this world can award us. And next time you feel like you’ve done nothing worthwhile (in the world’s standards), remember, as it says in the poem by C. T. Studd:
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.
Be sure to come back next Tuesday for next week’s post! And leave a comment about your favorite part of the Olympics. 🙂