One moment. Everything hangs upon it.
My family has been watching the Olympics together this week, tensing as a figure skater gets tossed several feet into the air until she lands safely again, holding our breath as the hockey player takes the shot, cheering as the skier lands that fantastical flip. It’s incredible the feats these athletes can do. But what’s even more impressive is the labor these athletes have put into their sport.
They’ve trained since they were ten. They’ve given all their attention to this one thing. They lift those weights, just one more time, so that they can get here. They hit that alarm, just one more time, so that they can get here. Thousands of pushups and crunches, and hundreds of thousands of hours out on the snow, out on the ice — they dedicate the whole of their lives to training.
And yet some of them only compete for 38 seconds. That’s the whole of their race, that’s how long their track is.
But for many more, the outcome is decided in one single moment.
Their ankle tilts, and in one second they are skidding sideways across the ice into the padded wall. Hopes dashed in an instant. They misstep, and their competitor flies past them in a spray of snow. Victory lost in a moment.
These athletes work and labor all their lives, yet acclaim or loss can balances on the precipice of a single moment.
But that’s the Olympics. That’s why we watch it, that’s why we enjoy it. Every commercial and commentator constantly reminds us that all is at stake in the moment. Yet I wonder if we forget the same is true for our own lives.
We also train ourselves since birth. We spend the entirety of our lives chasing after one thing or another. We clock in that extra hour of work. We watch just one more video. Thousands of actions, hundreds of thousands of words and thoughts — the whole of our lives make us who we are.
And yet we don’t know how long our race will be. For some it’ll be almost a century. For others on a few short years. Our competition might only be a few laps. Yet for all of us, the outcome will be decided in one single moment.
For whether our race is a short sprint or a marathon, eventually it will end. Crossing the finish line, that’s the most important moment, where the racers can see how they’ve done, how they ranked, and whether their efforts prevailed. And for all of us? It looks like an audience with the Son.
For when we wake on the other side of eternity, it will be either to the praise of “Well done, good and faithful servant” or to the denoucement of “Away from Me, for I never knew you.” We’ll go in overwhelming joy to receive our gold streets or go in regret and despair to the burning depths.
We work and labor all our lives, yet acclaim or loss balances upon the precipice of this single moment.
And this isn’t just another big event, that though we fail, we can pick ourselves back up and make a big comeback next year. This is the ultimate race. The imperative event. The one that decides our hopes and our lives and our fates. Everlasting joy and life, or everlasting shame and death. This is the most important thing there is.
Thankfully, there’s still time. You’re still alive. You’re still breathing. Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart. (Heb 4:7) Now is the time, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:2) You can still make that one decision, that one choice that will decide everything.
One moment. Everything hangs upon it.
Are we ready?
I’ve finally gotten back to our Life’s Reflections series after a break for the holidays! And all of January. And a decent chunk of February. And did I even post anything about it in November? Ok, I guess I’ll just claim “after a break.”
Here’s the other posts from the series if you’d like to catch up, or just need a refresher!
- Clean Hands in a Muddy World
- Embers and Ebbs
- Analogies and Focus
- Mirrors and Photographs; Present and Past