“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith….” Heb. 12:1-2 is the most vivid description of a sports arena in scripture. We can almost feel the weight of that “great cloud of witnesses” towering overhead…and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to go down to the floor of a large sports stadium or concert arena you know what that crowd feels like.
The athletes who gathered in the 90,000 seat Rio Olympic Stadium this summer were chosen from among hundreds, even thousands of other athletes in their countries, selected to compete among an elite group of the world’s youth. Can you imagine the sense of pride in representing one’s country, the sense of honor that these athletes must have felt in being chosen for this moment; to compete before this great cloud of spectators from around the world? Can you imagine any one of those athletes, after coming all the way to Rio, saying “No, on second-thought I’d rather not!” I just don’t feel like swimming that 200 meter butterfly this year…I just don’t care to run another 100 meter sprint, or kick one more goal…I’m just not interested in doing one more round-off-back-handspring-triple twist!
That’s crazy! We all know that these young men and women were delirious with joy about being chosen for this moment…so how can we be any less enthused about being chosen by God to serve him at this time and place in world history. 1 Peter 2: 9 says that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that we may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.”
It’s an honor to be chosen to compete in the Olympic Games…but it’s not the greatest honor, and it’s not everyone’s calling. But God has chosen you and me to be part of the healing work he is doing in this world; the one world he sent his one and only Son to save. Will you accept the honor of being chosen by the Lord of the Universe? Will you allow him to use you in ways you can’t yet imagine? Will you run…keeping your eyes on Jesus who goes before you? This is your moment….