Unless you’re on a television sabbatical, addicted to HGTV or have been on a month-long missions trip with no electricity, then you know that on 08.08.08 the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympic Games were held at the new “Bird’s Nest” arena in Beijing, China. Some 10,000 athletes from around the world gathered there with lifelong dreams of standing on the podium and receiving a medal. Some will be members of a large delegation from their country, while others may be a single representative of their nation.
Recently I read an article in Parade Magazine about some of the lesser-known stories surrounding past Olympics. These are not stories of the people who stood on the podium to receive a medal, but their journeys are a compelling message to a world that often loses its moral compass. You can review some of these stories online.
There were many Olympic moments worthy of mention, but I’ve chosen to share just one. It involves a story from the 1988 Olympic Games during the sailing competition, far from the glamour of the opening or closing ceremonies or the stadium full of spectators cheering the track and field events, and nowhere near the final lap of the 26.2-mile marathon that is so widely covered on television.
A Canadian named Lawrence Lemieux was in second place in the sailing race when he spotted two sailors from Singapore who had been thrown into the water by the rough wind and waves. He veered off course, pulled them onto his boat, and waited for rescuers to arrive. It cost him any chance of winning a medal. But it sent a far bigger message. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV)
The New Testament verse has far greater meaning than simply losing your life. Is there anything that we’re holding onto, guarding or simply protecting that could be preventing or delaying the rescue, restoration or redemption of others? I’ve always admired the mother in Solomon’s great dilemma who was willing to forfeit her parental rights so that the baby might live (1 Kings 3:16-28). We make decisions daily that alter the future of others! What if our mission is less about competing for a medal for our own glory, and more about hearing God’s call to personal sacrifice when another’s life is at stake? It’s something to think about!
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” -Philippians 3:8 (NKJV)
By: Glenn Burris Jr., general supervisor