OLYMPICS AND LIFE
Re-posted blog from Sat, 27 Feb 2010
This week I’ve been watching the Olympics. Inspiring, especially Aksel Svendal, the Norwegian skier who trained back from a broken neck and facial fractures in a 2007 wipeout. Now he’s won 3 gold medals including the giant slalom and conquered the jump that took him out. He is always filmed racing in conjunction with his dad in the stands watching. His dad is jumping, cheering, clapping --feeling every bump in the course Aksel takes. His dad taught him to ski and introduced him to the mountains.
Television footage of those mountains reminded me of Norway when I visited at the age of many of these Olympic athletes. I remember the chilly ferry ride, gazing amazed at the beauty of the fiords winding a path to the small fishing village—the little town of Bergen.
At 24 years old my quiet exterior didn’t convey the inner excitement I felt wth other young hostellers, watching puffs of cold air form with each breath in the land of the Vikings.
One evening, even the smell of coffee rising from the warm mug I cradled in my hand mesmerized me. The hot liquid calmed my insides as much as the turtleneck wool sweater and goose down jacket sealed off the chill around our table. The “closed” sign hung on the door as the manager swept around us. The table where we sat in the small café in Norway.
That night I heard the melody again. A hauntingly beautiful piano piece that seemed to float around me wherever I roamed in Europe. The ballad of pour Adeline, by touring popular pianist Richard Clayderman, was the rave of the mainland. Try as I might, it was never my destiny to see him on tour. I planned then that this lovely song would be in my wedding. Wedding?.
Fast forward. Three years ago, after a time of worship at my church, moved with a mix of wonder and disappointment, memories and musings. The café in Norway. The tranquility then and there, amidst recent challenges here and now. I spoke to God, my Father.
Long Ago and Far Away
Sitting at that Café
Young and In Norway
My hopes were
So alive, so strong.
You never told me
It would be
But looking back now
I would have
And you already knew
I would have asked you “Why?”
I would have tried
To live without your grace
I had to live and learn
That You are.
That grace is…
That life flows
Like Grandma’s prose
“One day at a time, sweet Jesus,
One day at a time.”
From seasoned mountain trekkers of life, like me, to young ski racers like Aksel, strength and victory in life come by taking the next step on the next day. Setbacks start young as Aksel's injury relays. All of us face adversity on our journey. No matter if our trial is new or one we are familiar with, we are always in the process of moving forward in small steps or large.
Svendal, did the best he could with what he had in spite of what he lost from his injury. So must we. He came back and won the gold. He hoped and pressed on, as we do in our daily lives, with resolve and resiliency from the tragedies to the triumphs.
We trust God each today well lived produces a life of purpose and character because of the trials. He is our coach and He is our Father, just like Aksel's dad. Our Fathers eyes never leave us as we negotiate the dangerous turns and ruts on our course of life heading toward the finish line. The disappointments and injuries. He is always with us, just as Aksel's father so visibly supports him.
We know that if we follow the course laid out for us, heeding His instructions, applying what we've been taught, we will complete our race. He will cheer us on; He has a stake in our lives. We belong to him. He is with us in Spirit all the way through to the finish line. And we will each have a reward for crossing. For finishing our course. A gold medal we can carry into eternity. That no man can take away.
Let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.
“An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that will never disappear.” I Corinth 9:25