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Olympics and Ashes

olympic rings


As many of you know, Ash Wednesday was a couple days ago (February 14th to be exact—I don’t know if there’s any correlation between that and love or St Valentine, but anything is possible). I honestly do not participate in the AW festivities, and to be truthful, totally forgot that it was occurring until I went in to Leeker’s for a Chicken Fried Steak (also a wonderful Wednesday tradition). I was curious to see fish on the menu—that normally doesn’t happen until Friday—and then I saw a girl walking around with some dirt in the shape of a cross on her forehead and it all started falling in to place, the fish, the dirt…yes…this makes sense…Ash Wednesday.

Also starting recently was the 2018 Winter Olympics. Yay curling! I enjoy many of the competitions, although, admittedly, I don’t think you can call anything a sport that requires a judge’s score in order to win. That seems fairly arbitrary. I’m not saying they aren’t skilled in what they do, or that it doesn’t take an extreme level of athleticism—I’m just saying it’s not a sport. It’s a competition, certainly, but not a sport. While I’m ranting, let me also declare how much I hate seeing other people’s snow when we haven’t had a legitimate snow in probably 5 years, but whatever…enjoy your snow South Korea.

Now, back to my point…Oh, first, shout out to Shaun White and making good on his gold medal comeback—as well as any other AMERICAN athlete who will begin their runs at gold. USA! But here’s why I bring up both of these events: what occurred to me about Ash Wednesday, and the Winter Olympics, is both things require you to give something up.

Ash Wednesday is emblematic of the 40 days Jesus spend in the desert while fasting so many observers choose to fast from something during this “Lent” period as well. And the Winter Games require you to train your body for the rigors of Olympic-level competition, which, I’m sure, sleep, food, fun, and laziness are all on the top of the give-up list for the athletes.

I find this compelling because Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:27 writes: It is my own body I fight to make it do what I want. I do this so that I won’t miss getting the prize myself after telling others about it.

Perhaps we would do well to remind ourselves that we are more like Olympic athletes than we choose to believe. No, many of us aren’t getting up at 5:00 am to run…if you do, I’d just like to remind you that Proverbs 28:1 says, “Only the wicked run when no one is chasing them…” that might be poor exegesis, but I’m not the wicked one here…nonetheless, perhaps we should take seriously this idea of giving up certain pleasures in order to receive the ultimate one. Maybe Jesus was serious when he said, “It is better to lose one part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.”

I don’t know, I just feel like for me, I should probably be aware of the sin that can so easily entangle my life, so I don’t fall down and lose my medal…maybe these AW-ers are on to something…