Sidney Crosby. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
The old affirmation, “There is no failure in God,” is one of many in the lengthy litany of church clichés I prefer to stay away from most of the time because of the numerous implications for pastors and religious leaders who are left to answer difficult questions about the justice of God when tragedy comes and disaster strikes. For the most part, though, when talking about our lives in Christ, this affirmation can be used with great confidence because it takes a lot for us to be considered failures in God’s eyes.
Professional athletes don’t seem to have this same luxury, though. Back in 2008, Team USA Basketball was expected to win gold at the Summer Olympics in China, avenging a demoralizing bronze-medal finish in 2004 and numerous slip-ups in recent international competition. Long considered the world’s
best in the sport, nothing short of gold is or has ever been acceptable for a US team, especially since they started using professional athletes in 1992. Fortunately for that 2008 squad, they did indeed bring home the gold, because if they hadn’t, the backlash would have been such that they might
not have been allowed back in the country.
The talk around town appears to be that the same thing seems to apply to Team Canada Hockey this year in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics. Upon listening on Friday, January 29 to nationally syndicated sports radio talk show host, Jim Rome, interview Hockey Hall-of-Famer and Detroit Sports icon, Steve Yzerman, about Team Canada, over which is he the General Manager, it was easy to develop an appreciation for just how much pressure is on them to win the gold. Not only are they the home country, but their roster is a beast, featuring one of the NHL’s best players and Detroit Red Wings nemesis, Sidney Crosby, and arguably the league’s best goaltender of all time, Martin Brodeur, among a host of other stars. Although they will face many other formidable teams, such as the US, Russia, and Finland, no outcome outside of twenty-three gold-medal-draped men standing on the top podium, singing, “Oh, Canada,” is going to be acceptable to anyone across the river. Man, what pressure.
Isn’t it so wonderful that God doesn’t treat us like that? We don’t have the weight of an entire nation on our shoulders to perform because God loves us just the way we are. Even though God has a standard of holiness by which we are to live our lives, God also has the love and compassion to forgive and redeem us when we fall short, provided we not only seek forgiveness but actually turn from our wicked ways. Since the battle is already won, God will not condemn us when we endure seasons of trial
wherein we do not come home with the gold; rather, God patiently waits to see how we maintain our integrity and steadfastness in handling those disappointing seasons. Just as the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, athletes play “to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” crown (1 Corinthians 9:25). When you play for riches, accolades, and adoring fans, you’ll never be able to please everyone all the time, for anything short of perfection is considered a failure. When you play for God, however, your success is measured neither by the number of zeros in your paycheck, nor by the number of awards you win, but by the amount of glory you’ve brought God when your breathed your last breath. Gold, silver, bronze, or honorable mention, just hearing, “Well done,” when it’s all said and done is the ultimate goal. That’s why there’s no failure in God. For real.
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