Usain Bolt wins historic 3rd straight 100m gold. He’s larger than life. (CNN)
Let me start off by reminding you that Usain never wanted to do track. He wanted to play cricket. Yes! It was his dad who encouraged him to switch to track instead.
In 2000, he competed in the 200 meters and 400 meters at major events in Jamaica and the Caribbean. He was a young athlete at the time but he blazed an amazing trail, quickly establishing himself as the next track star to watch. However, on the international scene it was different. He failed to qualify at the World Championships in 2004. His coaches realized that there was much work to be done before Usain could join the ranks of the greats. It was 2006 before he was mature enough or fit enough to medal on the international scene. By then he had become more focused on athletics deciding to take the sport seriously and deciding he would no longer run the 400 meter.
In 2007 he ran the 100 meter event earning himself a silver medal. Fast forward to 2016 and Usain Bolt has gone down in history as the first man to have accomplished a ‘triple-triple’ – winning titles in the 100m, 200m, and 4 x 1 relay in three successive Olympic games. For me it’s even more interesting to note that Usain, the fastest man in the world, still struggles with his start.
By now you may be wondering what this has to do with our Christian walk. Well here are 3 lessons to consider:
Usain Bolt is very gifted but it’s not just his gifting that has pushed him ahead. It’s the fact that he is doing what God purposed him to do.
When we walk in God’s perfect will He honors us (even non-Christians) by giving us supernatural favor. The kind of favor that causes us to achieve above and beyond that which we could have ever imagined. And though this is true, not enough of us are walking in God’s perfect will. What we do instead is walk in His permissive will. That’s when we ask Him to give us what we want and He answers yes, though it’s not what He wants for us. It is true that when we walk in His permissive will we sometimes enjoy His favor and blessings and that’s because “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him”. (Rom 8:28) However, what we enjoy when God gives us our own way will never be as grand or as abundant as what He has predestined for us. So let’s stop praying for God to give us what we want. Rather, let’s pray for His perfect will to be done in our lives so that He God will truly be glorified.
It’s very possible that had Usain chosen cricket instead he would not have been the star he is today. The same would be true if he had gone on to be a 400 meter runner.
In his early career Usain quickly signaled to the world that he was the athlete to watch. However once he stepped onto the big stage the pressures became too much and he had to retreat and regroup. He got a new coach who started him on a strict training regimen.
The Christian journey is pretty similar to Usain’s. We begin our journey with small tests and trials but these are often easily overcome. However, as we mature in our walk the tests and trials become more challenging. These challenges are there to prune us and make us ready for the big stage – our predestined, God-ordained purpose. And as God prunes and perfects us, He expects us to buckle down so that in the end we would have become stronger in Him. To do this requires that we adopt a strict regimen, one that will cause us to deepen our relationship with Him. In other words, we need to be purposeful and deliberate in building and sustaining this relationship with our Abba Father by:
- Meditating on His Word (the Bible)
- Making prayer a way of life
- Praying according to the leading of the Holy Spirit
- Listening to hear His response after we have prayed
- Living according to His desires for our lives
- Acknowledging and repenting of our sins which isn’t just about being remorseful but rather about changing our minds so that we now think like God and act accordingly
It was 2-3 years before Usain was able to medal at the senior level. In that 2-3 year period he experienced disappointments. Until he finally became mature and fit enough to run record breaking times.
I’ve heard some persons say that Usain’s start needs so much work, it’s a wonder he is such a power house. And even though Usain was well-aware of the challenge he had with his start, he kept going. He would sometimes be heard in interviews saying, “it wasn’t the start I wanted, I’ll need to speak to my coach before the next race.”
God knows us – flaws and all. He uses us – flaws and all. We should never let our flaws stop us from pursuing what God has preordained for us. He knows we aren’t perfect and that our perfection won’t come until the Day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6) Notwithstanding, His Word says that “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3) I believe that this passage of scripture is telling us that we already have what we need for the stage we are at in our lives and once God is ready to take us to a new stage or level we can expect tests and trials – pruning and preparation for that new stage in or lives.
So what can we learn? To truly glorify God and enjoy the abundance He has in store for us, we need to be living according to His will for our lives. We need a strict regimen of prayer and fellowship with God so that we can become more like Him. We need not be afraid to walk in purpose because God has given us what we need for such a time as this.
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