Olympic Gold and Everlasting to Everlasting


I tend to think that life revolves around me.  From my perspective, it does.  I see the world through my eyes.  My understanding of the world starts with me, but it cannot end there.

That myopic beginning is part of my lot in life. That is where my challenge starts.

I am finite.  My view of the world is limited. My view is not just limited; it is utterly infinitesimal.

Science tells us that the world began with a “bang” about 14 billion years ago.  All of known history is less than 10,000 years.  My life began only 56 years ago, and I might only have another 30 years or so if I am fortunate. In comparison to the age of the universe, I am barely a mist.

In comparison to the age of the universe, we are barely a mist!

How small and insignificant, then, are we in comparison to God who made the universe?

Before the universe existed, God was. Before the Big Bang, God was. God exists, God existed and God always will exist. God exists beyond time and space.

“From everlasting[1] to everlasting” is God. (Psalm 90:2) From before the remotest antiquity into the future unknown and beyond, God is.  And God is always and ever will be unchanging in character.

I am as nothing, next to nothing in comparison to God, but God set eternity in my heart. (Ecc. 3:11)

This same God who exists from everlasting to everlasting set eternity into the hearts of the frail apparitions of life that we are!

That’s amazing! It’s even more amazing when I consider how utterly insignificant I am without God.  Apart from God I am utterly nothing, but God gives me eternal significance, having made us in His image.

Apart from God, we are like grass that sprouts in the morning and is withered and dry in the evening. (Psalm 90:6) We have no significance apart from God. Our 70 or 80 years of life, if we are likely to live that long, finishes like a sigh. (Ps. 90.9)

For what purpose?

Without any understanding or sense of the context in which we live – less than a droplet in the 13.8 billion year ocean of the universe – a momentary existence in God’s time – we cannot understand or appreciate our lives and place in the universe.

We may sense that we are made in God’s image but, thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, live only for ourselves. We have some sense of God’s purpose, but live to sate only our own desires and chase only the fireflies that are our own goals.

Jonathan v. Briggs III write these things as I watch day two of the 2016 Summer Olympics as the penultimate achievements of human physical prowess play out live in front of the world. How easily are we caught up in the momentary present of our momentary lives.

That is our lot, but God put eternity into our hearts. We sense it, but the momentary struggles of our lives often obscure that vast horizon that is eternity.

Consider the view from the height of human achievement. Wrestling is the sport I know best, and Jordan Burroughs stands at the acme of the wrestling world. With a record of 129-1 at the international level, 3 world gold medals and one Olympic gold medal, he may become known as the best US wrestler ever. He is already in the discussion.

When Jordan won the Olympic gold medal in London in 2012, he described what he experienced:

After winning gold in London, Burroughs disappeared into the tunnel and, for the moment, the dream continued. Everyone wanted a piece of the gold medal winner. Interviews, press conferences and autographs, all the sweat, all the hard work and extra training, this was the payoff. Burroughs was living his dream.

He had accomplished all his goals. He was proud. His parents and family were proud of him. His former high school coach and mentor were proud. He was the pride of Sicklerville, New Jersey. Nebraska was proud. Representing and winning a gold medal made the United States proud.

Then it stopped – and Burroughs was left holding a medallion.

“That’s it?” he said. “I thought once I became an Olympic champion I’d feel complete; I’d feel whole. I’d be extremely happy and joyful and this would be the best time of my life.”

Instead, Burroughs felt empty….

After returning to the States, the glory of the gold became an Olympic-sized disappointment.[2]

Another Olympic gold medal winner, Brandon Slay, calls Jordan’s experience “post-Everest syndrome”. Slay says, “A gold medal is always going to leave you empty. We will always feel emptiness unless we have oneness with the Savior.”[3]

Jordan Burroughs learned this too after descending from the Olympic gold mountain: “’In our world it’s all about accumulation; people just want to gain things,’ said Burroughs. ‘There’s no other thing in life that’s more fulfilling than a relationship with Jesus Christ.’”[4]

We are nothing but for our connection to God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Our earthly achievements gain us nothing; only the “achievements” that gain us an eternal relationship with God or worth anything in the end.

Eternity has been set in our hearts and nothing less than connection to the eternal can satisfy.

No one has achieved more in the Olympics than Michael Phelps. Literally no one. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever. Yet, Phelps reached a point in his life, after winning more Olympic gold, silver and bronze than any human being in history, where he was one the verge of suicide.[5]

“I was a train wreck. I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self worth. There were times where I didn’t want to be here. It was not good. I felt lost,” Phelps revealed.

Phelps was on top of the world in human achievement, but he was at the rock bottom in his life. He became restless and reckless; he was empty of purpose and meaning. He began thinking the world would be a better place without him.

Incredible, one might think, from the perspective of an average person who’s Olympic dreams might as well be dreams of traveling to another galaxy. But the point is that human achievement does not satisfy.

We have eternity in our hearts.

Michael Phelps learned this too, thankfully. After reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Pastor Rick Warren, Phelps had an epiphany. “Phelps said the book ‘turned me into believing there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet.’”[6]

What does all this mean for you and me?

Most of aren’t Olympians, and we don’t have Olympic aspirations.

We have a higher calling! God set eternity in our hearts.

We are meant for eternity, and this brief moment in time that is my life is the springboard into that eternity – if I incline my ear to the one who is from everlasting to everlasting I can hear Him whispering to us that we should number of our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  (Ps. 90:12)

Wisdom is perspective, an eternal perspective that directs us to focus on what counts for eternity and allows us to lay aside the things that count only in this short breath that we call life. Wisdom directs us to God and understanding of His eternal work and to conform our efforts with His purpose. (Ps. 90:16-17)

In God alone, we find the fulfillment of who we are and who we are meant to be.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[1]Olām – properly, of long duration referring to the type of existence that characterizes an entire age, life span, or epoch (even eternity) – i.e. persists as a particular quality throughout. ‘Olâm does not focus on what is endless nor does it exclude the notion.  5703/ad with 5769/ʽolâm however strongly stresses the idea of eternity.

[2] http://www.johnstrubel.com/wrestling-with-god/ posted in Bylines January 3, 2014.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] http://qpolitical.com/1-nearly-dying-michael-phelps-tells-god-saved-life-made-swim/ posted in Q Political August 5, 2016.

[6] http://hellochristian.com/3980-michael-phelps-on-how-god-saved-him-from-suicide

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3 Comments on “Olympic Gold and Everlasting to Everlasting”

  1. munyingnying Says:

    Beautiful piece, brother! The Lord bless you! I also happened to read Daniel 4 last night, so reading your article this morning is a continuation of my reflection. Thank you and bless you!

    Like


  2. […] God is from everlasting to everlasting. He sets eternity in the hearts of men (Ecc. 3.11), but our glimpse of eternity and our sense of God is often obscured by the every day realities of our lives. […]

    Like


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