Broadening the Gospel Platform at the Olympics

When you watch the Olypmics, how do you feel? I have to admit, I love that rush of empowerment when my favorite athlete crosses the finish line first, or stands tear-streaked to the strains the National Anthem. It’s a good feeling.

I completely “get” the fist pumping, water-smacking, “can’t believe I made it this far,” maddening-need-to-do-it-again–amass more medals than Michael Phelps–emotional high. I think I can understand the powerful feeling of fame, matched only by the soul-crushing shame of loss on the worldwide stage.

And, along with the rest of America, I love a feel-good story: everything from baby Boomer to Kathleen Baker’s refusal to be cowed by Chrone’s Disease to the courageous German gymnast who finished for his team despite a torn ACL. In fact, it’s a nice distraction from the incessant pavement-pounding of this political season. In a way, it makes it easier to pretend (for 2 weeks) that all’s right with the world, that all these nations simply enjoy a friendly rivalry contained in the sporting arena.

I will be parked (as often as possible) in front of the television for these all-too-short days of friendly, inspiring competition. But, there’s something the majority of media leaves out, even out of the feel-good stories. And that’s the multiple stories of faith.

It’s easy enough to hide our faith under a basket when our greatest exposure is the guy at the supermarket, the daycare provider or our co-workers, but can you imagine the pressure these athletes face to hide this most important and inflammatory topic from a world filled with people who have no problem killing based on faith?

But some have chosen not to hide it. Some have chosen to use their platform, however brief it may be, to declare the love, grace and power of Jesus Christ in their personal lives and His desire to be Lord of every life–before the day when every knee will bow without exception.

” … so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth … ” Philippians 2:10

You won’t hear these stories on TV, so I feel compelled to do my tiny part to broaden the platform for one of these bold athletes. Meet David Boudia:

Permission of Pain

The Olympics came to a close yesterday. Both in preparation and during the competition, there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and yes, pain. Pain is unavoidable for those committed to training for most sports. To increase endurance, an athlete has to push past the breaking point. Blisters form, pop and tear on a gymnast’s hands. Every mountain biker tumbles through the rock garden once or twice. The hurdler sprawls face first, injuring pride and ankle.

These are expected pains. Growing pains. They gain glory through survival and triumph over the pain.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

No pain no gain – athletic mantras

I want to twist this truth just a little bit. I want to look at the permission of pain. 

I am not saying that an Olympian or any athlete looks forward to the tearing, telling pain of a pulled muscle or broken bone or any other debilitating injury. No one does. But sometimes it brings relief. What if one of the reasons God gave us pain was so that our overly-zealous, compulsive minds would receive the permission to rest.

I have been studying rest with a wonderful website: . That’s their theme for August and it has proved to be a nagging growing pain in my own heart. You see, I hate to rest. I was raised and programed to perform and produce. Product is posterity. When God informed me through His word that He rested and he designed me, a mortal, to require and to take rest, I nodded, “What a good idea, God. When I’m done here.”

What if God is allowing us to be taught something. What if He is waiting for us to trip over a hurdle or slip from the bars because of our stubborn blisters. What if He is standing right there to pick us up, walk to the sidelines and say, “Rest. Just sit down with me. I will hold you, comfort you, encourage you. When you do go back to the race, you will run stronger, jump higher, flip faster than ever before.”

It’s actually true in athletics too. Following a day or a week of rest, or an entire off season, an athlete often comes back stronger. They have been refreshed.

Sometimes it takes pain for us to hear the already God-given permission to rest.