By Ashlee Best


McKayla Maroney: Unlikely fall costs American gymnast her Olympic gold

Why do we lose heart when Olympians fail? When a gymnast falls or bobbles on the balance beam? When a swimmer’s fingertips touch the wall hundredths of seconds slower than the swimmer in the lane next to them? When they trip over a hurdle or stumble in a sprint? When a synchronized diver’s partner is just a little bit off and not a perfect match? When a volleyball is served with power, but lands out of bounds before the play even begins?

Have you ever noticed this? We are so surprised when Olympians show that they’re human and perform at a level that is less than our standard of perfection. Not only are we surprised, but we proceed to write them off. To give up on them. Be honest for a minute. When watching your favorite gymnast compete in the all-around, do you sigh, shake your head, and say, “Well, that’s it,” if they hop too far back after a tumbling pass or turn their ankle on the balance beam?

Jul 31, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Gabrielle Douglas competes on the vault in the women's team gymnastics finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Gabrielle Douglas competes on the vault in the women’s team gymnastics finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It’s like, as soon as an Olympian shows a “human moment” that’s not entirely up to our superhero standard, then they’re dead to us and their moment of glory and shot at that circular disk of gold (or silver or bronze, but let’s be honest… sometimes we think even that is a let down) is over forever.

So, why? Because they’re Olympians… they’ve trained for this their whole life, devoted themselves to hours in the gym, so we have high expectations. But we sit there and judge like we could do any better. Like we could win that medal if we had a chance to show up the athlete at, not only their sport of choice, but their life-discipline.

Similar question: why do we give up on God when He doesn’t come through the way we expect? We pray for something, maybe a couple of times, and then write Him off when it doesn’t get answered the way we deem adequate or “right.”

Why aren’t we surprised when the gymnast completes their tumbling passflawlessly? When the sprinter pulls ahead of his competitors and finishes the race in record time? When the swimmer breaks, not only the Olympic record, but also the world record?

Follow-up question: why don’t we glorify God when He does answer that prayer? When He does pull through, fix a situation, or help us overcome?

Higher“‘Give ear and come to Me; hear Me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, My faithful love promised to David . . . Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has endowed you with splendor . . . My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord . . . ‘As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth… so is My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’” — Isaiah 55:3, 5, 8, 10a-11 (NIV)

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock in whom I take refuge . . . He reached down from on high and took hold of me, He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy… He brought me into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me . . . As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless . . . It isGod who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give Your shield of victory; You stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.” — 2 Samuel 22:2b, 17, 20, 33-37 (NIV)

I can’t even wrap my head around these verses… “You stoop down to make me great … You broaden the path so that my ankles do not turn.” How then can I dare write Him off when things don’t go the way I think they should? How can I dare to not fall on my face in worship when they actually turn out better?

We can’t treat God in the same way that we treat those Olympians. Because those athletes are human… incredibly disciplined, dedicated, and athletic humans, but humans all the same. And in time, they will once again have a body fat percentage in their body, that just might exceed their percentage of muscle. They will have joint pain and weak knees and limited energy. And they won’t be in the spotlight anymore. Their fancy and impressive party tricks will be over. And unfortunately, they won’t really matter to us anymore. Their word will be unimportant and irrelevant.

But God’s word never returns void. Even as time fades the vitality of life, as pressures and stress rise to the surface, God’s word stands. And not only stands, but excels and advances us forward. His strength is what trains us for battle, gives us purpose, gives us calling, and renews that vitality. Don’t write Him off if the answer doesn’t come in the way you expected… if He doesn’t seem to nail that floor routine in the qualifying rounds. His plans are much bigger than anything we can foresee and, for some reason, He privileges us with a part in it.

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” — Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” — Psalm 116:2 (NLT)


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I am a singer/songwriter. I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with all my heart. I have been a pastor’s kid my whole life, and I would like to go into music ministry myself. My blogging is about unwrapping the Bible and the thoughts and ideas I have from that. I hope this is an encouragement to you! You can find out more about me at the following sites.

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