It’s that time again – the Winter Olympics are currently in the background while I am writing this evening. They are being held in Sochi, Russia and the games this first week have been a collection of highs, lows and everything in between. The costs that the Russians have incurred to bring these games is representative of a Herculean effort. Some estimates put the total cost of the games somewhere north of $50 billion – as compared to about $9 billion for the Vancouver games where the last Winter Olympics were held. The president of Russia, Putin, has been seen around the games and it seems pretty clear that he wanted to communicate the message to the world that Russia is still a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, I wonder what they will do with all the venues after the games are gone. Sochi is far more of a summer resort town that a winter wonderland and the geography is pretty spread out. The Fisht Stadium, where the opening ceremonies were held, will remain unused until the closing ceremonies. It must be nice to have that kind of money to spend on a venue that is only used twice – and not for any of the competitions, mind you.
By now, we have all heard that there were some technical problems during the opening show as one of the Olympic rings failed to form as designed and the world caught a glimpse of the problem. All the world, that is, except Russia. Russian TV showed the rehearsal footage when the program was flawless so the Russian people didn’t realize that once again, they really didn’t have the truth.
Although the story of Sochi is interesting, it pales in comparison to the personal sagas of some of the athletes who have sacrificed for years to participate in these games. Bode Miller, who just tied for the bronze in a ski event, recently lost his brother to a seizure that took his life. This was after his brother suffered a severe brain trauma; as event that drew the brothers much closer together. In fact, Bode was unable to continue the interview following his medal performance – overcome by the emotion of the situation in conjunction with the loss of his brother. But the interviewer was the one who seemed out of step – asking questions and pushing him when it would have been more respectful to leave him alone.
We’ve also seen stories about the women’s skeleton athletes and the requisite ice dance competition. Other athletes have had to raise their own funds to come to Sochi and all in all, it’s been more of a human Olympics that several of the others in the recent past.
While I was watching this evening, I couldn’t help but compare the athletes to the disciples who traveled with Jesus. They also had their ups and downs – victories and times when they just couldn’t get their act together. And let’s not forget that they were in training with Jesus for three years – a long haul back in those days. And even though they had the best teacher and coach in the history of the world, they didn’t always score the highest marks for what they did.
Jesus kept trying to get them to understand the kingdom of God on earth – but this was uncharted territory and sometimes it was just too much to ask of them to believe. Other times, like when Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the living Messiah, the disciples scored gold. And while they were inconsistent, let’s not forget that in the scheme of things, Jesus poured His life into 12 men who changed the entire world. And thousands of years later, Jesus, His work on earth and the work of the disciples, remains in the forefront of our consciousness. All in all, it was an Olympic effort that has paid huge dividends for all those people who have been led to Christ throughout the centuries.
Our verse for this evening reflects the fact that Jesus empowered His disciples to do great things. From Matthew 10:1, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” My encouragement is that Jesus has empowered each of us to do great things as well. After all, we are every bit as important to Him as the apostles were. My prayer this evening is that you will exhibit an Olympic effort trying your best to do the will of God and causing celebration and the singing of angels in heaven as you honor God with your Christian walk. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…