From Sledding to Snowboarding


The Winter Olympics are on this week.

Inspiration abounds.

It’s unlikely that any of the athletes performing in Sochi have put in any less than the minimum 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell unearthed as the tipping point for mastery in any given field.  Some, perhaps many, have committed much more time than that.  As spectators, we have the privilege of seeing the outcome of enormous investment with just a precursory glance at its cost.

That said, I’m fairly certain that every single, painful moment of training was counted worthy from the winner’s podium.

Every early morning training run.

Every injury that was overcome.

Every sacrifice that was called upon.

None of it regretted when the moment of glory finally arrived.

What a great encouragement to those of us still waiting for ours!

We love the Olympics, because every day that it’s going, it brings us glimpses of the far side of the finish line.  It’s such a good thing to focus our attention there.  The grind and gruel of daily training will never get done without a reminder of that.

It’s unlikely there would be any viewership for the weeks and months of hard work and daily cost leading up to the final test.  We enjoy the quick recaps – the biographical sketches of the athletes and their long climb to make it to where they are today – shown just before they compete. We all know that if we wanted to be like them, the details of their days is where we would learn the most.  But that’s not why we watch.  If the commentators forced us to actually drop in and view several hours of an actual training day in the life of the up and coming competitor before we saw the outcome?


Yeah.  We’d tune out pretty quickly.  That would be way too close to real life.  And let’s be honest, we watch the Olympics to escape the mundane and remind ourselves that there is greatness out there to be laid hold of.  Spectacular accomplishment, and reward for hard work and boldness and even sheer crazy IS available to anyone who wants to go after it.

As I’m sitting here typing, my 8 and 10-year old boys are outside snowboarding on their sleds.  The real feel temp is 11 degrees and their boots are wet from earlier, so they’re outside in sneakers. Sneakers! But they are undeterred.

Inspiration is meant to transform things.

Here, it’s transformed sleds into snowboards, cold into something to be ignored, down-time into outdoor-time. Today my young men are ripping down the hills standing up, leaning into the rush of wind that greets them. They’re looking for bigger hills now. Yesterday they were boys sledding on their bellies, hanging on until the end of the ride.

And it wasn’t any Gold medal, or the reward that grabbed hold of their hearts.  It was just the sheer boldness of the sport itself that stirred something within them.

This trigger is written in all our hearts.  Don’t you think God had a greater purpose than mere sport in mind when He fashioned us in such a way as this?

So here’s my challenge to you this week.   Take a hard stop, right now, and pray that God would help you identify a person you know who is so passionate in their pursuit of Jesus, that everything in their life is marked by that relationship.  Someone who loves the Lord in tangible, practical ways.  

You should know them by their fruit.  Jesus said so. The Kingdom is growing around them.  Nothing is stagnant in their midst.  You’re looking for messy AND holy,  not neatly manicured. You need someone who will let you into whole process, not just the happy biographical sketch that we all like to watch.

Ask them if you can press in close for a day.  Find out what motivates them.  Find out what de-motivates them.  Pay attention to how they train for the race that’s been marked out for them.

I would bet their daily spiritual disciplines are not for the faint of heart.  Time in the Word, study, prayer, praise, meditating and memorizing are all just suiting up for the day. It may even happen before their feet hit the ground.  And this I know about them already if God is growing His Kingdom through them –

They hit it hard, even when it hurts.

They forgive unforgivable things.

They love unlovable people.

They give up what they can’t keep because they believe in so doing, they are gaining what cannot be taken away.

And you won’t find the real champions going on and on about what all this training costs them.

They believe that God didn’t just save them so they could have a place in heaven, but so He could have a living, breathing place here on earth…in them.

Their eye is on the prize of their upward calling in Christ Jesus.

So go get yourself a running partner this week. Even if it’s just for a lap or two, I guarantee it will help you pick up your pace.  Combine it with a good hard look at the finish line, and you may find that there is real glory to be found in the daily grind of earnest pursuit.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:7-14 (NASB)

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148,000,000 Strides and Counting…


So, I’m thinking I’m at least halfway now. My 45th birthday passed with very little fanfare a few days ago.  Everybody joked about it being my 25th or some other such nonsense, and I just kept thinking, “Hey now! I’ve been going 45 years straight.  That’s a good long way to run. Why would I want to pretend it’s any LESS than that?”

I did the math.  Yes I did.  I’m active, always have been, and I factored in my not walking for the first year plus some sick days.  I’ve had my fair share.

I’ve averaged 9,000 steps a day. This is actually a pretty conservative number since I’ve lived and traveled extensively overseas, always opted for the stairs and spent the last eight years walking to and through my work, which seldom affords me a seat.

I rounded down.  And best I can figure, it has still added up to no small journey.

148 million steps.

One foot in front of the other.

We are all going somewhere.  Every day we’re doing it.  Even when we don’t sense the momentum or have lost our vision, by God’s grace, we remain in motion.

Even on a sickbed we are actively engaged in this thing called living.  Sometimes I think those are the miles that have mattered most in my journey.  The ones spent running hard after God in prayer and praise and study because my feet couldn’t even hit the ground that day.

He redeems it all.

Making a hard stop on my birthday this year did something for me. It gave me a moment to count strides, and in so doing, I was pretty blown away by the distance covered.

The race marked out immediately ahead of me is steep.  It’s uphill for a good long stretch.  I don’t feel equal to the task.

I’ve been having to wrestle fear to the ground before I can even begin the climb.  This is a fresh opportunity to trust the Lord.  I can always trust fear to provide that.

I’m grateful that God has allowed me a moment’s pause at base camp to reflect on the simple truth that great things are accomplished, and races are won, one step at a time.

Praying.  Praising.  Trusting.  Pressing FORWARD.

Putting toes in the water, even if it hasn’t parted yet.

One foot in front of the other.

It’s all moving me towards Him.

“My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child He loves that He disciplines; the child He embraces, He also corrects.  God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.     Hebrews 12: 5-7  (the Message)

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