This year's Olympic figure skating completions at Soshi have been filled with a lot of drama this week. First a fifteen year old girl, first time in the Olympics, Julia Lipnitskaya received an amazing high score and later wins gold! While on the other hand the confident American, Ashley Wagner, who skated beautifully, scores lower than expected. Next the Russians take gold and silver in the pairs performances as Maxim Trankov threw himself on his knees after the program and Tatiana Volosozhar got teary eye. Next, Patrick Chan and Denis Ten tumble on the ice, but win medals. And then for the coup de gras, Plushenko hurts himself during the single's program, skates over to the judges and announces his withdrawal and retirement! Imagine that in one fell swoop his Olympic career is over, much to the chagrin of the Russians. It makes one think. What's going on?
Ashley Wagner, the American was so self confident as she approached her program, which was probably needed since she fell twice in the Nationals and needed to boost herself up. She skated very well but her scores didn't quite reflect it, and you could see her disappointment as they were announced and posted. Her disappointment was understandable because her performance indicated better than that. But what about those of us that call ourselves Christians. Are we disappointed with our performance? Who do we place our trust in?
If we are looking to ourselves, we're skating on thin ice, for at some point in time, we're going to fall right through. But we can take encouragement when we look to the Lord. God's love for us in not based on our performance. He loves us with an everlasting, unconditional, agape love. Sure we will fall sometimes just like Ashley, but we need to get back up again. The difference is we don't need to pump ourselves up, get all supercharged about our talents, nor do we need to feel dejected because of our lack. We can rest in God's strength. But we are not to be lazy about our spiritual life, for we too should be in training.
The athletes have a lot of determination, perseverance, stamina and strength, which they gain through hours upon hours of hard physical and mental training, The Apostle Paul tells us this counts for temporal good, but spiritual training has eternal benefits. " 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 Corinth. 9: 24-25). So which do we need? God's unconditional love or our perseverance to obtain a spiritual crown. Both.
Without God's love we would be nothing and have nothing. The earth could crumble in a matter of minutes without His love for mankind. Without Him we can accomplish nothing of eternal value. Yet God uses us, our talents and abilities to enter into His plans. The Apostle Paul labored much, but he was not laboring for his name to be known, but to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. God Himself set Paul on this mission.
As Christians, we don't need to create our own missions, but instead listen and wait to see what God is doing and enter into His plans. When we try to build our own kingdoms or ministries, we're skating on thin ice. If God calls us, then we are to obey. We may falter and stumble, but we can be assured of His unending love when we operate in His calling. Then as we encounter problems we will be able to persevere with His help and in His strength, knowing it is God's will, not our own. We may fall and hit the ice, but He will be there to pick us up and set us on our way again.