Olympic Swimming and God’s Love

August 19, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love, Swimming | Leave a comment

Since we are a family of swimmers, watching the swimming events in the Olympics is a great occasion in our home.  We watch very little TV.  Other than renting a video movie occasionally and my watching a Sunday afternoon sporting event, the television in our house is never on.  But when the Olympics come around all that changes.  We love to watch; the TV is on every night we’re home and we record some events when we’re away.  We even rearrange the furniture to see the TV better.  Of course the swimming events are the highlight for us.  What a joy to watch the American Swimmers take so many medals!  The men’s 4 x 100 free relay was the most exciting event of the week for us; Dara Torres is an inspiration to us older swimmers; and Michael Phelps is simply unbelievable.

However, something caught my attention last week; it was the number of times I heard an announcer say “the greatest ever.”  Twice I heard that “Kitajima is the greatest breastroker ever,” and numerous times I heard someone say, “Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever.”  I began to think about that phrase and wondered, “Are they really?”  I believe we have kept swimming records for the past 120 years or so.  If the Bible dates are literal, then people have been here for 6,000-8,000 years, so we’ve been keeping track of swimming speeds for at most 2% of our history.  Yet we say that these men are the “greatest ever.”  Without taking anything away from what they have accomplished (I stand amazed at it), it seems to me that calling them the greatest ever is both arrogant and short sided.  Maybe in that other 98% of our history there was a cave man who, while escaping from alligators, moved faster in the water than Michael Phelps could even dream.

After pondering this matter one evening, I was struck by the word of Psalm 103 the next morning:  God “knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are but dust.  As for mortals, their days are like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” (v.14-15) We make such a big deal about someone being the “greatest ever” or the “fastest ever,” but they too will pass on and be forgotten.  These words are sandwiched between expressions of God’s great love.  The very next verse of the poem says “But from everlasting to ever lasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him.”

Let’s enjoy and celebrate the feats of greatness we see in the Olympics, but let’s remember that in light of eternity they mean nothing.  In comparison, God’s love endures forever. They do it for a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” That’s a true gold-medal thought.



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