In the Olympics, held every four years, there are only three medals awarded per event; bronze, silver and gold. The athlete dreams of winning the gold and mounting the center podium as their country’s national anthem is played. These incredible individuals train and practice for years in preparation for the competition. Their personal stories of sacrifice and commitment are truly inspiring to hear. They appropriately command the world’s attention and admiration.
The culmination of years of determined effort is often separated by a mere fraction of a second between the top performers. I always thought that the most disappointing finish was not to come in second but fourth place. Those finishing runner up to the winner at least receive the silver but you get no medal for fourth place. This is also true for all the others who finish below the top three positions.
What they do take away with them is the experience of representing their country and competing with the world’s best in the Olympics—an honor all by itself. No doubt they also derive satisfaction from the training, discipline and exercise in their sport.
Anyone can appreciate and realize the lessons from life that can be learned from these amazing individuals. You are not just a “winner” when you achieve the top spot on the platform—everyone who works hard and gives their best effort is truly a “winner.” Unlike the Olympics, life provides us with many opportunities to “grab the gold.” We would do well to emulate the dedication and hard work of the athletes and approach life with their level of seriousness and commitment.
In addition to the accolades and applause from family, friends and co-workers there is the simple satisfaction from knowing we have done well. If you fall down, get back up and keep going. No doubt the greatest reward will be hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21& 23).
This can be realized if we heed the exhortation of Apostle Paul. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
Because he practiced what he preached, Paul could say near the end of his life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).