The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are just a few hours from being complete. Once again, we have been able to watch and see some of the best athletes in the world as they have competed and experienced the “thrill of victory and/or the agony of defeat”. We have also caught glimpses of the best in the human spirit.
Cross-country skier Anton Gafarov had the privilege of skiing in and for his homeland, Russia. During the Men’s Sprint Free Semifinals, Gafarov crashed early and broke his ski and pole, but not his spirit. He got up and resumed the race. Even after two more falls Gafarov would not quit. Seeing the fall, rival coach Justin Wadsorth of Canada realized that the base had come off of the badly damaged left ski. "I went over and gave him one of Alex's [Harvey, a member of the Canadian team who didn't qualify for the sprint final] spare skis. It was about giving Gafarov some dignity so he didn't have to walk to the finish area." Not only did the Canadian coach give him a ski, he also fastened it on Gafarov’s foot.
The 2014 Olympics also saw the debut of the ski halfpipe. David Wise is a freestyle skier from Reno, Nevada. In an interview after winning the gold medal he stated, “I think it’s more important to be a good husband and father than it is to be a great skier.”
Other lessons observed:
* Any person/team can win on any given day.
* The best don’t always win.
* Being a good sport matters.
* When you fall, get up and keep going.
* It’s important to keep your eyes focused on the course and finish line.
* No one makes it to the Olympics on their own.
* Athletes were quick to celebrate with and thank family, team members, coaches and fans…the people who invested love, time, energy, and encouragement in them.
* Even if it has been 62 years since your country has medaled in the two-man bobsled, you compete to win and celebrate when you succeed.
* Even if your country has never won a Winter Olympic Medal, you continue to strive to be the first.
* Sometimes it takes 17 years of work with your partner to accomplish your goal.
* Age is not a factor. The US had the oldest athlete in an event win as well as the youngest athlete to ever medal in a particular event.
* Sacrifices of time, energy, patience, perseverance, money, and effort are part of achieving your dream and goal.
* There is camaraderie, amidst the competition, with athletes who compete in the same sporting event.
* Just as the athletes are representatives of their country during the Olympics and other competitions, we have the opportunity of being representatives of Jesus every day.
For a few short weeks in Sochi, Russia, people from many tribes and nations gathered in peace to participate in the 2014 Olympics. Some came as athletes, others as coaches and family members, and many as spectators. And one day there will be an even greater gathering of people from every nation, tribe, people and language that will live in peace forever because they know, follow, and have a relationship with the Prince of Peace, Jesus.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.