Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Competing for a perishable crown

I watched quite a lot of the Olympics, although gradually less and less as the days passed; towards the end I had a bad case of Olympic fatigue. However, I did catch an interview with high jump medallist Robert Grabarz in which he was being quizzed on his recent dramatic improvement by the athletics commentary team. To paraphrase, Grabarz stated that his improvement in form was entirely due to a change of mentality regarding his training: in short he decided to put more effort in. Michael Johnson took slight issue with this and said it must be down to a new regime or something of the sort. Robbie said no, it was all about his attitude: if you go to a weights session with the intention of working really hard and getting the most out of it, then obviously it works better than if you just go through the motions.

Watching the Olympics I often found myself thinking of St Paul's words: Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. For many of the athletes, an Olympic medal is the highest possible achievement and they may only get one shot at it. These athletes put everything else aside to train, many of them speak of sacrificing their social lives, the food they like to eat, their lie-ins, holidays etc. Some take a year off work. And then it's all about that 30 seconds in which they race, jump, throw, whatever. All this for a perishable crown (OK, I'll admit that a gold medal endures longer than a crown of olive leaves), for a moment on the podium, and the satisfaction of having given everything, which makes such sacrifce worth it.

How much more, then, should I not commit to my spiritual combat and Christian life when the prize is so much more? And surely this same change of attitude is the starting point: every moment is an opportunity to conquer heaven.

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