The Greatest Gold of All!

I’ve been watching the Olympics these last few days with my Pug poised st archly on the chaise. (She’s likes Brazil, oddly enough.) I’ve witnessed the usual: Americans demonstrating unbelievable feats of athleticism, strength, endurance and honor. I’ve seen young men and women perform unthinkable feats, and then bow and shake hands with their competition after taking silver and bronze. I’ve seen Phelps cannonball to the medal stand eight times and then listen to an interview where he revealed his greatest inspiration: his mother, a middle school principal. I’d say the only thing that I witnessed, that was not expected was the overbearing, buffoonish and sometimes crass commentators. (Really…I mean, is there nothing else for retired former-medalists to do??)

The triumph of winning the gold over insurmountable odds…the situational comedy of finding the lost wedding band thanks to the help of a high resolution slow-mo camera…the controversy over a finger-tip victory…the agony of a less than perfect dive in the moment of truth. Drama, drama, drama. Even the Olympic cut-away music…still gives me goose-bumps.

I admit I missed the opening ceremonies. It’s long…highly theatrical…involving numerous people in various costumes performing and presenting themselves in a pep rally that extends itself far beyond any mere “ceremony.” And then, of course the lighting of the torch. A flying torch-bearer. If you asked me…were a mere silly clown away from every Cirque show I’ve ever seen. I love it! I was sad I had to watch it recorded.

Drama is present in every corner of the world. Why? Because people need it. They need something to look forward to, to hope for and to find common thread in. It’s what fuels us as a nation. It’s what bonds us together as a country…even if only for 100 meters, or four quarters.

What interested me was not so much the national anthems blaring into packed stadiums. (Cool stadiums too. Go Beijing.) It wasn’t the thrill of defeat or the adversity overcame. More so, it was the Cuban man I caught giving the sign of the cross before running. It was the young lady (I can’t remember what country she was from) looking to heaven and mouthing “Thank you Lord.” It was the Brazilian woman who wore a cross of gold around her neck. (Who knows…maybe my Pug is smarter that I give credit.)

I expect to see that from Americans. I expect to see a silent prayer or a glory to God reference from Americans. But I tend to forget that our country’s borders do not outline the mission field. Rather, the outline the battle field.

My mother-in-law, a well traveled, highly educated woman whom I respect greatly told me about a friends experience in China when they visited on a mission trip. She said that it is a law that people cannot speak openly about their Faith. That they must be engaged in conversation FIRST, before offering sentiments. (How does one monitor THAT??) She also said that people are indeed allowed to practice whatever Faith they like, but only in home-centers…or congregations out of their homes. And even then…not to children. Sheesh. It prompted the question…I wonder if there are many Lutheran churches in China. I still wonder.

What a great honor to host the Olympics. What an opportunity to find change in a time of strife for so many people in China and surrounding countries. (I won’t pretend to know the situations of grieving countries supported by activists.) I hope that those watching the Olympics (In HD or not!) will perhaps take a moment or two to think about how amazingly blessed we all are. Every time the U.S. wins a gold, I think “wow.” But every time I see someone from a foreign country…a country I know nothing about, mind you…give the sign of the cross, or thank the Lord…MY Lord…it brings me closer to the understanding of how big and great God is. And when I go to bed at night after switching off my TV in my house and scratching my dogs and kissing my wife…I say a prayer that those who aren’t as fortunate as me may someday have the same opportunities as I do.

I can’t swim a straight line to save my life. I don’t even understand the rules to sports like Trampoline and Handball. But I do know that the Lord loves me very much. He has blessed me in many ways: to ABLE to worship Him. To be able to give thanks to Him. To be able to talk about Him. I can’t imagine winning anything greater than that.

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