PRINCIPLE: “When you’re awake, go for the gold!”
Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the Olympic Gold Medal for Ice Dancing. It was, as is always the case with Olympians, the result of persistent hard work over many years. Shortly after their victory NBC ran a short congratulatory piece in which they mentioned that Meryl and Charlie won the gold because they had been working together 17 years, practiced over 29,000 hours, entered 75 competitions, and skated 41/2 minutes of perfection. It’s truly a picture of dedication, commitment, and perseverance. I couldn’t help but think that they spent every waking hour thinking about or participating in their skating. Perhaps their motto was “When you’re awake, go for the gold!”
I also thought about someone else who spent every waking hour thinking about or participating in his passion. His name was Paul. He wrote, “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.” (1 Cor. 9:24-25) Near the end of his life he reflected, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8) He spent every waking hour living for Jesus. “When you’re awake, go for the gold!”
Paul’s entire life was spent in preparation for the race. While I have no idea how many hours Paul spent ‘practicing’ and training, I do know he said, “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:26-27) “When you’re awake, go for the gold!” I don’t know how many times Paul entered into competition, but I do know he felt the pains of opposition: “Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? “(2 Cor. 11:23-29) “When you’re awake, go for the gold!”I also know that Paul didn’t need to rely on perfection; rather he rested in grace. “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”(1 Cor. 15:9-10) “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”(2 Cor. 12:9) “When you’re awake, go for the gold!”
I know the gold – the crown – is in store for me, because I have been saved by grace through faith. But it makes me wonder: how have I been running – how strict is my training – how purposeful, or aimless, has my running been? At the end of my race I want to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”So from now on, I will strive to spend every waking hour living for Jesus. From hereon my motto is “When you’re awake, go for the gold!”Will you join me?