The Olympics of Faith–Are you in shape to compete and win?

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about the approach of the Olympic Games! The natural thrust of enthusiasmĀ  surrounding the athletic pursuit of achievement and excellence and grace has a distinct effect on the human spirit. We are communal people by nature and, as we watch the competitions, we are not simply spectators, but active supporters. We want the win–we share the dream of the competitors who have spent years of their lives straining muscles; testing endurance; sacrificing freedom and flexibility and forsaking mediocre goals.

There is some very real part of each of us that wants to put our lives–our entire selves–into a feat that consummates with such a prized reward. When we observe others who are not guilty of silently and passively consenting to their life passing them by, the challenge confronts us quite concretely. I think this is excellent. Not everyone of us can get off the couch and instigate a training regimen that will carry us through to the highest elevation of the winners platform, but there is something grand which we are to seek and grasp by the execution of our entire being.

The calling–to know God–is the most distinct quest we will ever encounter. The Olympics, and other events with similar orientations, are able to stir up our person considerably, but they cannot promise the true fulfillment of the longings that they stir up. The decorations, accolades and measure of self-actuation are the fruits of winning in these areas, but each of these things begin to rot before we know it. They ultimately leave us hungering for more, knowing there must be something we were meant to work at which would nourish us lastingly.

Each of us is looking for the supreme goal of our lives, which is no less than diving into relationship with God–including all its risks and returns. We know that this one adventure will go beyond employing our powers to thoroughly engaging our person. And, if that’s not winning, I don’t know what is!

I die when pride and I collide

Turning against God cursed the understanding and vision of we earthly-dwellers. Created to embrace Life in its fullness through our relationship with Him, we live isolated and largely dull existences because we have wandered so far away from Him. It is no wonder that we live for the power and prestige that we can create, rather than for the passion and promotion of what God has already created.

When I think about success, I normally evaluate my goals, my disappointments and how these things make me feel. This leads me to ask questions that begin with why, center on me, and pose a problem with God‘s exercise of His sovereignty.

Evidently I have not had my soul satisfied in Christ to the extent that work and its potential for personal recognition will not keep me on a see-saw of egocentric emotions. There is yet sin that chains my heart to hopes that cannot recognize Christ as King. Hopes that will never allow me to recognize freedom in the alliance to things eternal and incomparable.

I have no choice but to confess to Him the loyalties of my deity-dethroning heart. My tension is self-inflicted, yet used by God to point out the weakness of my hold on grace; the dimness of my focus on Christ.

God has so much more for me — like Him — but I can’t see any of it unless He commands the computations of my brain and the desires of my heart. God often alerts me to our need for Him to take more Elaine-ground with a simple question that gets right to the central error He wants to deal with in my heart. Two nights ago it was

What is your definition of success?

Is it what you can hold onto of

ability

beauty

competition

dominion

excellence

fluidity

god-ness

hierarchy?

What if Mine was the success and there was nothing besides that? What if you live not to succeed, but to soak Me up? To revel not in making much of yourself, but in letting Me make much of Myself to you?

What else could I respond but with gratitude that my Lord would convict me of my sin and lead me to repentance?

Father, let Your Son be my joy; let His sacrifice and reward be my boast. May this life be my only life — a beauty and satisfaction that drips down into the empty vessels of my words and acts.

Don’t let me miss the point of living and working, Lord; it can only be to know Christ and Him crucified, for this is the only peace and joy for me and my world.

Reveal the truth of who You are to me in a new degree that I might freely acknowledge that I am nothing to promote, but that my worth is revealed in who I get to promote. My joy and peace and satisfaction is also summed up in the greatness of You and not of me. You don’t need me to promote You, but surely I need to promote You. To be consumed with making You known I must first be consumed with knowing You.