Faith, like sports, requires much dedication and sacrifice

“…Let us lay aside every weight…Let us run with patience the race…” Hebrews 12:1

In the 1960’s, ABC Sports coined a phrase that outlived its Wide World of Sports show, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” To this day I can still visualize that poor ski jumper who crashed in the opening segment.

In case you ever wondered, the ski jumper was Slovenian Vinko Bogataj. His accident that day earned him a place in the opening credits seen more often than any other athlete on that show. Fortunately, he only suffered a concussion in the crash and returned to ski jumping the next year.

Today, Bogataj lives in northern Yugoslavia driving a forklift in a factory. He sometimes coaches and is still a jumper in senior competitions. Though his failure was monumental, he never gave up on his dream to be the best ski jumper.

Over a billion viewers worldwide are watching the current Olympics and cheering on the athletes as they pursue their dreams of a gold medal. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the athletes who failed during the preliminary trials to get into the finals. Still, they pursue their dream and look ahead to the next Olympics in 2018.

The key to a true athlete is they never give up trying to be the best in their sport. I am sure plenty of them get discouraged and sometimes want to give up but they continue training.

Training involves dedication, sacrifice, and plenty of bruises, sore muscles, or even broken bones. Athletes are up early every day when most of us are still asleep, working toward their goal.

What if Christians were as diligent in studying and memorizing the word of God? I am sorry to say that despite past promises to myself, I still don’t get up early for my quiet time with God. I even allow interruptions and other things interfere sometimes when I try to study later in the day.

Those are my days of the “agony of defeat” when I allow Satan to discourage me from what I know is the right thing to do.

Like the Olympics, we, too, have a crowd cheering us on to victory. In Hebrews 11, also known as the “Hall of Faith” we read how people overcame all sorts of obstacles through faith. They learned firsthand how “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Now, in Hebrews 12 we learn who is cheering us on in our competition also known as life. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Like the Olympic athletes, we are coached and encouraged to do our best in our one-person race against all the evil things of the world that are hurled at us. We are cheered on in our race even when Satan whispers in our ear that we are failures and should give up and take the path to destruction.

What are your dreams and goals in life that God placed in you? How hard are you willing to work to achieve them? What are you willing to give up to achieve them? A little sleep? Some time in front of the television? Are you willing to try, try again until you reach your goal?

I pray that each one of us focuses on the “thrill of victory.” However, if your life seems more like the “agony of defeat,” be like that ski jumper. Start again on the race until you reach the finish line.

Debra Whittington is a longtime resident of Tucumcari. Contact her at:

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