For the remaining 14 nights, you will find me in front of a TV. Drawn by the lure of Olympic-size competition, I will arrive with snacks to watch toned and muscular bodies in action. With regular season football still weeks away, I will receive my sports fix via the race for medals. I will be mesmerized by superhuman feats of athleticism on display. Why does anyone even attempt to do back flips on a 4-inch wide beam?
Focus. Toughness. Strength. Perseverance, Determination. Endurance. Resilience.
All show up every night; all exhibited in a wide array of colorful uniforms.
What makes a person work so hard and practice so long while striving for perfection? Each athlete has an overachieving, internal drive force that keeps me tuning in for more.
During the opening ceremony, one commentator made an insightful comment. He said that for many of the athletes this single event of entering the arena to thundering applause and celebration was their Olympics. Most would not make it through preliminaries, most would not achieve a personal record, and most would certainly return home empty-handed. So before the cauldron was lit, most had achieved all they possibly would in the Olympics.
In addition to the drama and cheers, I enjoy learning about the individual. Tell me about the person. I am curious about their journey. Their back story doesn’t need to focus on whether they set a personal record or awarded a medal. Yes, I will see what they are capable of but who are they and what is their back story? What did they and their family endure to arrive on this world stage? What did they sacrifice and was it worth it?
Terrorism, in its ugly form, has touched many people and nations. Freedom to live, work, practice, and train have been infringed upon. Yes, each athlete has a back story; we just aren’t privy to all of them. Occasionally, Bob Costas may enlighten us with a human interest story but with 11,000 + athletes competing in these Olympics, there are 11,000 + back stories.
Tell me more about Laura Graves, the hairdresser from Boston. What motivates a hairdresser to purchase a horse that she saw on a sales video? Why did she nickname him Diddy? How did their journey unfold in Florida where they train in hopes of an equestrian medal? Curious stuff.
By telling me their back stories, these media-inflated gods and goddesses become more real and human. They are not to be worshipped, but they can be admired. By telling me their back stories, I hear their struggles and I don’t feel so alone in mine.
I was dialed in on night 3, when David Boudia and partner, Steele Johnson, were competing in the 10-meter platform synchronized diving competition. One could say that Boudin’s back story is one of drugs, alcohol, and the contemplation of suicide. That is all true. But the climax to any good story is the most exciting part. It is when the conflict of the plot is resolved. That occurred when David accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. The red blood flowed from the cross and covered all of David’s back story. His life was never the same.
At the end of the night, David and Steele celebrated their silver medal performance. With a microphone in front of them and the world listening, David put his back story front and center. On national TV, he told the world his identity is in Christ alone. He is more than a medal. David and Steele both openly shared whose they are.
It’s totally freeing when I stay in tune with scripture. I don’t have to worry if I miss a dive. I go into competition and it’s like, ‘Praise God no matter what.’ If I do well, that’s awesome. I praise Him. If I don’t do well, praise Him even more. Competition looks way different now. ~ David Boudia
When the cauldron is snuffed out and the Olympics rings go dark, the athletes will travel home. Hopefully, they will carry David’s back story with them. Perhaps they will pause to consider their own identity, whether they have a medal around their neck or not.
Now when David stares down a dive from 10 meters high, he knows the climax to his back story carried him there.
That is all he needs to know.
Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in Heaven, your heart will be there too. Matthew 6:19-21
Let’s Walk Worthy!