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The Medal Race
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The Olympics make me cry. I cry during the opening ceremonies. I cry during the team events, during the individual events and during the medal ceremonies—whether my country is represented or not. My eyes are red and throat is tight during much of August.

Are they tears of joy or tears of sadness? Both.

It started during the Opening Ceremonies. Yes, it was beautiful, inspiring and heart-moving. But that’s not why I cried. It’s the unity. It's the sense that for these few moments, the whole world has set aside their disagreements and hurt feelings and political frustrations and has come together to celebrate our humanity.

To me, it is a glimpse of what heaven might feel like. All of us from every edge of the earth with our different stories and lives will come together before the throne of God to celebrate His saving grace. Awesome.

The tears of sadness come when I watch an athlete who has been training since their childhood for this chance. They will display their skill for mere seconds in the hopes of being the best in the world. I cry because of what they have given up for this honor. The time away from families, the childhood freedom and play that they often forfeit, the school experiences they live without and the early exposure to the world of rejection that they learn to suffer through.

And if they fail? There is disappointment, regret and grief.

However, for the few who succeed, the expressions of overwhelming joy on their faces and their families and those of us watching makes one think maybe it’s all worth it.

He Already Performed

What I am so thankful for is that our ability to receive the greatest honor and award in the universe is not contingent on how much we practice, on how we perform during one moment in time. It’s based on how He already performed. And just like the Olympians, many of us gave up a lot to follow Christ. Around the world in areas where there is no freedom of religion, things are harder than for those of us who live in the West. But even here, devotion to God can come between friends and family members, it can affect career aspirations, it can keep you from many things the world paints as “fun.”

But wonderfully, anything we have given up pales in comparison with the final reward.  Because no matter how we perform—whether we fall off the beam, trip during a sprint, miss the shot, or create a huge splash upon entry—we will win.

We win. There is no real tension, no held breath, no pounding heart, because we already know. We win. Because He won first.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Phillippians 3:12-14).

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By Joelle Yamada. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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