In case you haven’t noticed, there is a bit of a sporting event that’s been on lately. A big sporting event. A great, big, wonderful, crazy, exciting event of hundreds of different sports all at the same time showcasing a million different skills and the site of a thousand different stories. In short, the Olympics.
Our family always enjoys watching the whole thing (although our DVR might not be quite as appreciative) always cheering and shouting loudly to the athletes. (Yes, I know they can’t actually hear me. But obviously my moral support helps them somehow!) My favorites are always gymnastics, beach volleyball, and swimming. It’s exhilarating to watch these people fly through the air, hit the ball with a resounding SMACK!, or cut through the water. And in watching these many athletes, I’ve noticed something. They have nothing unnecessary.
Their bodies are completely toned, without any extra weight. Especially the female gymnasts, they may be small, but they are all muscle. Because they can’t afford to have anything more. Or think of the swimmers. Everything about them, from their bodies to the caps they use to cover their hair help them to be as streamlined as possible. Any excess drag or weight can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
And so the athletes are serious about their training and their lifestyles. I know, I know, we all envied Phelps when we heard about his thousand-calories breakfasts last year (Waffles and donuts and pancakes every morning? Yum, yes please!), but we also recognized that was him specifically giving his body the insane amount of calories it needed. Athletes don’t lay around all day. They don’t train half-heartedly. They don’t allow distractions to keep them from their work. There may be challenges out of their control, such as the weather during the event, or the skill of the opposition, but they want to be sure that none of their hang-ups come from themselves. So athletes get rid of every burden which could slow them down.
And as Christians, we should be doing the same thing.
Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)
The Lord has set before us race to be won, a journey to be completed. We want to do the best we can, to run hard after Him. Now, we can face challenges brought on by the actions of others, or the roughness of our road, or by the attacks of the enemy. But sometimes, we can be slowed by ourselves. We load ourselves down with weights, making every step harder.
Weights drag you down, creating more resistance and friction. You can’t run the race as well. You are unnecessarily using up your energy. And so you slow.
One of the biggest weights in my life is distractions. There’s nothing much for you to do, and while you could go study, this new game is fun, and you’ll just take another five minutes. That apologetics book on your shelf could help you answer those objections you’ve heard, but — Hey! — that new novel is sitting right beside it, let’s just bury any excuses under a rollercoaster of emotion. You should be writing a blog post, but — Oh, your friend just posted something new on Facebook, you should go catch up with her.(Guilty as charged) So we binge-watch our series, refresh our emails, and continue to text our friend. And we don’t move
These little nothings can suck up our time, leading us nowhere, leaving our dreams and passions stuck in never.
Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. None of these activities are inherently wrong. The passage in Hebrews mentions weights and sins. Two different categories, two different things. In fact, many of the things which can become distractions and weights are actually good. Checking in with and telling friends you care is important. Laughing is important. Relaxation is important. Even just lightening up and nerding out over something is important. God built in a day of rest for a reason. But when we let distractions hijack our control center and daily schedule, we have a problem.
And it’s the same case with many things. Food is beautiful and wonderful and, most importantly, necessary for life. There’s no reason not to take pleasure in it. But gluttony, gluttony is not beautiful nor wonderful nor necessary to life. It is a misuse of a good and proper thing. In much the same way, when we let distractions addict us, we’re misusing the time and skill God has given us.
But we often think it’s so much easier to just give into these weights, to just allow distractions. It seems more fun, more easy-going, more relaxing. But we forget we are training. We forget that we have a very short time here. And we are to put our time to good use. When we only have 80-so years to prepare for all of eternity, being always glued to the computer screen doesn’t sound like such a grand idea.
Because we are chasing after something so much better than a gold medal.
That’s the height of athletes’ dreams. Win Olympic gold, stand on that top podium, and you’re the best of the best. But gold isn’t worth much in heaven’s economy. In fact, it is just used as paving material. Like dirt or rocks, it’s just something unheeded under your feet.
No, we aren’t chasing after gold. We know we’re going to walk on it. Instead, our rewards are crowns (Jam 1:12), ruling (Luk 19:19), and, what may be the greatest reward of all, hearing the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21) from the mouth of the Lord and One whom you love. Our training may be hard at the moment, but we have all eternity to delight in our rewards.
So don’t become weighed down with distractions. They can only slow you down in your race.
Lay them aside, and run hard after Jesus.
Thank you all so much for your patience with my spotty schedule, lots of craziness going on, so I’ll be scheduling more things ahead of time to keep up. So, I know some of you aren’t in the U S of A, so who are you cheering for at this Olympics? What is your favorite event? Let me know!