While watching the USA Women’s Soccer team win their first 2012 Olympic match-up with France, I was reminded of why I detested playing soccer in High School Phys-Ed class. There isn’t much for a field player to do except run … very fast on a huge field of play … for an extraordinary long period of time with nothing but short periods of rest; perhaps only a few seconds at a time. This is complicated by the fact that the feet used in running are also the primary tools used in moving the ball, which explains why there are often players seen lying on the field. Even if you are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to kick the ball (I used my head once and had a headache for a week), the time spent actually moving the ball is just a small fraction of the time spent running. Viewing the Olympic game, however, engendered a deep respect for the non-player on the field of play who runs with the best of them and has literally no rest at all – the center referee. Considering that they appear to be older than the players, perhaps retired players, their stamina and endurance is impressive. Players who get exhausted can at least get a substitute. Can you imagine the embarrassment, even the scandal of a referee who gets winded and can’t keep pace? I’m sure that the key is in a regimen of conditioning.
When engaged in the business of living as a believer on the field of life we, like the referee, do not have the luxury of calling for a substitute so that we can rest. And, like the referee, without the appropriate regimen of conditioning, embarrassment and even scandal might easily be the result.
I thought of the “spiritual Olympic arena” today when I read from Hebrews 11: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance (endurance) the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I detested soccer as a teen-ager because the ball was rarely at the point I thought it was going to be when I arrived there. Consequently, I was always gasping for breath with aching lungs and weary legs after a lot of fruitless running after nothing. Hopefully for you, and for me, with the conditioning of the Word and the regimen of prayer, we will successfully complete the race and hear the One Who has gone before say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”. Until that time I’ll watch someone else play soccer and work harder on my spiritual conditioning.