Olympic glory?

I have caught some of the olympic action lately. The strongest, fastest and most agile people in the world are competing in front of a billion viewers. They are aiming for glory. They are aiming for the stars.

While watching the 100m mens sprint final I was struck by a thought. What does it mean to live a life of excellence. What does it mean to pursue glory? What does it mean to subdue your body to 15 years of fulltime training? I also thought about morality. Is it glorious to be the fastest man alive or is it maybe more glorious to bring mosquito nets to Malawi?

It is very common for pious christians to condemn the persons that are seeking, what it seems, earthly goals. I catch myself judging Usain Bolt (why did he not put all that effort into a school project in Jamaica or something) when he wins the gold and the praise of a whole world. That would have been truly glorious, right?

But it is not the ones that are competing that are to blame. Usain Bolt was made to run. He displays the glory of God (even if he does not know it) by the way he runs. By his quiet determination of fulfilling his purpose. No, we should not blame the ones that are pursuing and fine tuning what they have been given. We should blame the mob. It is us, the people watching, that are to be blamed. Blamed for giving more adoration than what is due to men and woman performing. Blamed for not recognizing the source and reason behind their abilities.We make idols out of everything becuase we do not want to pay the price of glorious living. We rather admire someone or something else than put down the hours.

Because truth be told, the world would have been less beautiful if Phelps was cleaning tables rather than swimming or Boldt was gardening instead of running. But they in themselves are not the source of that beauty but only the display of it.

Steven Pressfield talks about the glory that is within you:

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace (or a runner)? In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don’t do it… If… you don’t do it… you shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God (glory)… Dont cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got. ”

You see, the glory of our life appears when we give it away for other people’s joy and benefit. The glory of humanity (of God really) appears when we collaborate and use the gifts we have been given for other people’s sake.

At the core of our being, we all are destined for glory. We all have something beautiful to give to the world. Will you, with maybe a close friend as coach and God as owner start to give out what has been given to you? Would you start to lead a life of glory and excellence? The olympic fire is nothing else than a very real reminder of that there is a fire burning in every single one of us. A fire that tells you that you can live, and are intended to live, a life that displays His glory.

You have a divine spark inside of you. Why not unleash it for the betterment of others. Offer yourself up, and gain your life.

In Christ

Fr. Jakob