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Friday, February 12, 2010

Eyes on the Prize, Violet

I’m excited about the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies tonight. I love the pomp and circumstance, the historical resonance on a world stage. I get into athletes’ stories of struggle and triumph. I feel the thrill of a perfect performance and the disappointment in a failed one. I cringe at accidents and hold my breath for results. I’m amazed at the talent.

Endless analogies exist in the sport world illustrating our spiritual walk. Even the Apostle Paul told us to “run the race in order to get the prize.” (I Cor. 9:24-27) So there’s lots here to talk about during Olympic season.

But as I sifted through ideas, one word kept popping up-

Fear.

That kinda irritated me.

I’ve written about the “F” word before, so I don’t want to repeat myself. Besides, what does it have to do with the Olympics?

Nothing, actually, which turns out to be the point.

Olympians have to have a “can do” attitude. If they fear, they fail.

Do you think snow-boarder Shaun White is afraid of flying over and above those massive, frozen half-pipes?

Does downhill-skier Lindsey Vonn fear breaking her neck every time she launches out of the starting gate at the top of a run?

I can’t see speed-skater Apolo Ohno worrying about a slip leading to a pile up leading to someone getting their jugular sliced open with an errant skate blade.

Ew.

Okay, so maybe these athletes experience some trepidation, like stage fright, before hitting the slopes or ice or… pipe… but they don’t allow fear to win out. Their eyes really are on the prize.

I heard recently that fear not, which shows up numerous times in God’s Word, is a command.

Didn’t seem that earth shattering, until I mulled it over.

I’ve always seen that as a comforting, mama-caressing-her-baby’s-shoulder-and-drying-her-tears thing. A coddle. A hush-now, everything-will-be-okay security blanket from God. It makes me feel better, encourages me to bite my lip and carry on despite my heavy load.

If I keep crying (a.k.a. – fearing), it’s no big deal, I’ll just dial up for more soothing fear not pats on the back from my big mama in the sky.

Things change, though, when I read that phrase as a command.

It’s a Nike foil. Just don’t do it.

Fear is the opposite of faith, and God says that without faith, it is impossible to please Him. (Heb. 11:6) He’s not telling us to fear not so we might feel better about our circumstances. He’s commanding us to fear not because of Who He is, because what He says is true and because He, in His very nature, is trustworthy. Fearing is evidence that I don’t believe Him.

Of course, there is a difference between not fearing and having good sense. The Olympic athletes still wear helmets, take practice runs, learn their craft, and they aren’t jumping off sky scrapers without a parachute in defiance of gravity.

I’m saying that not fearing what God tells us not to fear is smart. Fearing what God tells us not to is… well, not smart. (Matt. 10:28)

Hebrews 12:1-3 informs me that I’m in a race that has been marked out for me – it’s called my life. And I should run that race like Jesus ran His, who sacrificed everything in order to win, His prize being the redemption of my soul. I shouldn’t give up because He didn’t give up, and He had to endure much more than I’ll ever have to. Like an Olympian, I should cast off anything that holds me back, mainly sin. I believe fear is part of that sin, and the one thing that inhibits me the most.

Temptation to fear surrounds us. Epidemics, blizzards, earthquakes, wars, nuclear Iran... tons of bad stuff. It can get overwhelming. From our point of view, fear is warranted. But we don't always have the best vantage. We can be sure God always does because He's bigger and more powerful than anything.

I’ll have to practice at this not fearing thing, train like the athletes, discipline myself. It will take time. And I won’t always break record time, display the perfect half-pike-twist-touch-my-toes move, or gain perfect 10s.

But at least I’ll have my eyes on the prize.

Thanks for visiting Dry Ground!

Happy Weekending. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

For kicks, anyone know which movie is referenced in today’s title????

(photos by photobucket.com)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory w/ Johnny Depp...which was on ABC Family yesterday during my 2nd round of gym usage! :)

lynnrush said...

Ahhh, anonymous beat me to the punch. I remember Violet...her mom was soooo into winning, didn't see much else, did she?

Great post, Lori. Fear is such a huge thing for me when it comes to competition. You sum it up nicely when you say:

"If they fear, they fail."

KM Wilsher said...

So true - we must train like the athletes in order not to fear - otherwise it sneaks up on you, mesmerizes you, consumes you.

Nice post! Happy Valentines Day!