David Brown’s sight began slipping away at the age of 15 months. Now completely blind, this talented sprinter relies entirely on his trainer, Jerome Avery, to race alongside him in the Paralympic games. A four-inch-long string connects the two men at their fingers. Each athlete’s rapid stride has been trained to match that of his partner in perfection.
Jerome Avery is a rare athlete. This 36-year-old trainer values the advantages of his eyesight and speed, and has chosen to use both to spawn the Olympic success of an optically impaired man. This trainer could have persisted to achieve a possible Olympic medal for his own.
But that would have left David Brown helpless. Unless someone more skilled than he should train to run the race with him, David couldn’t compete.
An LA Times news article put it like this:
Unlike so many talented sprinters who had come and gone through [the program for guide sprinters], [Jerome Avery] was willing to put his own dreams on the back burner.[i]
What a beautiful picture.
For Christians, this life is a race toward the goal of perfected holiness; a oneness with the Father in eternity. It’s a goal that would be utterly impossible for us to ever reach because of our sin disability. But Jesus Christ gave up his glory and stepped into our world of blindness.
Competition Requires Training
We live in a world riddled with spiritual conflict that surpasses mere athletic rivalry. They’re deadly conflicts against a deadly Enemy, but the greatest hazard lies in the fact that most of the time, I live oblivious to them.
Unlike Olympic athletes, I don’t sacrifice my comforts to train relentlessly for the days of pressing competition. I don’t train for the culmination of this “competition” because I don’t see that my life is in a spiritual conflict demanding personal sacrifice and daily training.
But as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:11)
The Medal Has Been Won, But the Race Must be Run
My lack of spiritual exercise only exposes the need for a trainer. And here’s the good news: we have One.
Until our death, we will fight our rivals, the flesh and the Devil. But Christ—the ultimate Trainer—has already won the victory of our souls at the cross. Because of this, we can now train until our strides match those of Christ in perfection.
It’s like the story of David Brown and Jerome Avery… only better.
Jesus not only gave up his position as a champion for us, he gave up his life. He loved us to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:8) because he wanted to see blind sinners race unhindered toward the now accessible goal of a holy, eternal life with God the Father.
So, let’s run.
…Let us… lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2)
This race is a gift given by a God who won’t fail to supply our every need. The daily conflicts of life are like God’s Olympic training center, where he disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. (Heb. 12:10)
Compete Like an Olympian for a Greater Prize
As athletes from all over the globe carry their talents and years of training to Pyeongchang, South Korea this week, let the competitions remind us that we too are engaged in a struggle for a prize. It’s a struggle that’s been won so that we can run. A struggle that Christ empowers us to train for with the vigor and gravity of a medal-driven Olympian.
But the gold medals of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will prove incredibly inferior to the prize of seeing Christ Jesus face to face one day.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be revealed to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pt. 1:13)
[i] Quotation and information taken from http://www.latimes.com/sports/great-reads/la-sp-c1-blind-sprinter-20151019-story.html