millions across the globe, I watched with great interest as athletes competed
for Olympic gold. As I viewed the sledding events, I smiled as I recalled the
Calgary Olympics. There in 1988 we first met the Jamaican bobsled team. Those
who missed the story as it unfolded in Canada later learned about it through
the movie Cool Runnings.
idea for a Jamaican bobsled team originated with two Americans who saw a
pushcart derby and thought it looked like bobsledding—minus the ice. Good starters and good runners are key to
pushcart derby racing and bobsledding, and Jamaica had plenty of both. So they
got a team together.
lots of people chuckled.
Calgary everyone viewed the Jamaican team as a novelty, especially when they
experienced technical difficulties, injuries, and crashes. Yet four years later
in Albertville, the four-man team came in fourteenth, ahead of the United
States, France, Russia, and Italy. And in the two-man event the Jamaicans placed
tenth and soundly trounced the Swedish national champs! No more chuckles.
2000, at the Monte Carlo World Push Championships, the Jamaican bobsled team
posted the fastest start time at the World Cup, and they took home the gold in
three events. Today they call themselves “The Hottest Thing on Ice.” A bunch of runners, whom others considered a
novelty, trained themselves into a force to be reckoned with, through
diligence, training, and discipline. Those
same qualities that make a great Olympic runner/bobsledder also make a mature
Christian. In fact the apostle Paul, being a Jew with Roman citizenship, often
used the metaphor of an Olympic runner to describe the Christian life.
the Corinthians, also familiar with the Olympics, Paul wrote, “Do you not know
that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get
a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever”
( 1 Cor. 9:24–25).
as Paul reached the end of his life, he wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in
store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge,
will award me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed
for his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7–8).
Paul’s day the crown was the goal. Athletes sought not gold medals but leaves
adorning their heads. In Olympia the crowns were made of wild olive leaves; in
Delphi, laurel; in Corinth, pine. Yet regardless of the plant, all the crowns
Paul had in mind would wilt. But the crown awarded to the Christian for the
fruit of spiritual toil, training, and discipline lasts forever.
stay diligent. Train hard. Be disciplined. Finish well.