Did you watch the Olympics? Wasn’t it awesome? I have learned something from the Olympics that impressed me as a great life lesson. I have admired the athletes and what they sacrifice, how they train,SandyLandryandSun what character they display. But what I noticed this time was the way many of them dealt with defeat. I admired their ability to accept defeat without becoming defeated and their winning attitudes even when they fail.
Did you happen to see one of the American divers last dive of his career? His first name was Corey. I don’t know his last. He sprang into the air, landed to the left of the board, and the whole dive was ruined. He couldn’t execute the somersaults or spins or whatever it is divers do. He had medaled twice before in previous Olympics, but when the pressure was the greatest, he failed. What impressed me was his lack of frustration with himself and his coach’s praise for what he had accomplished in his career at the second of his failure. There was no condemnation at least in those early moments, and his poise in the midst of failure was amazing. Now if you had trained for four years and it was your last dive, you might think you would want to beat yourself up a bit. Or that your coach would grant himself at least permission to roll his eyes, or shake his head, but they didn’t grant themselves that kind of permission to make the pain any worse than it was.
I couldn’t help but admire that kind of disciplined thinking and compare it to what the Bible tells us to do about disciplining our minds. Remember when Paul said in Philippians that he forgot what was behind and strained towards what was ahead which was the high calling. I watched these athletes that have disciplined their minds to know that while they might fail at a race, a game, or a dive, they are not failures because of one dive. They are the best in the world, even when they fail. Even when it is a dramatic tumble. Not even if was the most important one in four years.
I like that. I like the ability to train your hardest and do your best and then give yourself grace if you fail. I like the far sightedness of athletes who train for something four years in the future, as though it were tomorrow, and who all know that one day their climb for success will be over. And yet at a pinnacle event, their minds are so well trained to stay positive, they rarely allow themselves to wallow in negativity. Michael Phelps lost, and then came back to win, and win, and win, even though the announcers washed him up after his first defeat. There are times when a diver has two chances and he busts on the first one, and then he comes back to do it perfectly the second time. But we have all seen gymnasts or ice skaters or someone in some event, that once they fall, they can’t get it back. They continue to make mistakes, and once they allow the “Oh no, I have messed up” thoughts to come they go on to perform way below their abilities. Like once they start going down, they can’t stop. So what is the difference? I believe it is practiced ability of renewing of the mind. Paul had it right: forgetting what is before and focusing on what is ahead. That takes practice and practice and practice. It is pretty awesome to watch for the ones who do it the quickest go on to be champions.
And so it is for us. There is no condemnation for those are in Christ Jesus. Our great coach knows we are champions and that if we bust, we can instantly find grace to forget what is behind and press on, looking to what is ahead, the high calling of champions who over come: winners on this earth and winners forever more.