All over the world, clocks are counting down to the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Bejing Olympic and Paralympic Games. Timing will be critical in every aspect. Delays can affect both athletic performance and spectator satisfaction. The difference between winning a medal and going home without one may be a matter of a fraction of a second.
As I started reading about the upcoming games, I wondered how the athletes could be so dedicated. How could they spend so much time and effort to prepare for an event that may last only minutes?
I don't think that I've ever had to sacrifice as much as them. But then, I started thinking about our journey with God. Paul uses the analogy of a race to illustrate God's big picture. In his letter to Timothy, he writes about his efforts to preach the gospel.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith," (2 Tim 4:7 NIV).
Even though Paul didn't have elaborate timing devices, he understood how to win. It's not about how fast, it's about how well. In our spiritual walk, God wants each of us to finish. He wants us to live in him and become like him. We will fail, at times, and have to start over. I believe that God's sense of timing is a lot different from ours. And, boy, am I glad.
Our failure may be an opportunity to lean on others to help us deepen our faith. When crises, complacency and complications emerge, do we remain faithful? Will we learn from our mistakes?
In my own spiritual walk, I want to fight the right fight. Am I working toward becoming more faithful and compassionate? It's so easy to put it off until tomorrow because it is too hard and takes too much energy. Does my life help others and lead them to Christ? When I am finished, will I be able to say that I have kept the faith? I don't want to regret the choices that I have made. At a certain point, I don't think there will be another chance.
Tonight, as the torch is lit, I'm going renew my commitment to use the seconds that I'm given to serve God.
Lisa Hetzel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.