Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary (Isaiah 40:31). 

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held February 9-25 in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. Almost 100 nations will participate, competing in 102 athletic events—from alpine skiing to speed skating. Athletes will push themselves down slopes, off ramps and across the ice in attempts to be citius, altius, fortius (Latin for faster, higher, stronger—the Olympic motto). 

These world-class athletes dedicate their lives and countless hours to honing skills required for Olympic competition. That’s what disciples of Christ and Olympians have in common—preparation and training.

Wait – In waiting for the Lord, the prophet Isaiah says we will renew our strength. Like athletes, disciples of Christ must prepare their hearts and minds for the strenuous journey of life in ministry. When we wait, we rely on God for strength to bear burdens. We grow stronger in faith, patience and endurance. When we wait, we discover that our lives are in God’s hands. We can rest in God’s presence, and trust God to work in our lives. 

Fly – Next Isaiah says we are to mount up with wings like eagles, so we must fly. We are to rise above our earthly perspective and see the world from the vantage point of “the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:28). To mount up with wings like eagles is to see the world from the perspective of Jesus, the one who is full of grace and truth. Flying high, we see all people as friends instead of enemies. 

Run – Finally, we are told to run and not get weary. Ministry can be demanding physical work, and Isaiah is right to say that “even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted” (40:30). But God is more interested in our spiritual stamina than our physical strength. He wants us to be able to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). With our eyes on Jesus, we can run and not be weary, even when we face obstacles such as job losses, relationship problems, and moral failures. When we stumble, Jesus picks us up, dusts us off and helps us to start running again. 

In the final race, we may not get a medal to hang around our neck. We won’t get a thrill from having billions of television viewers watch us stop a puck, ski down a mountain or perform a triple axel. But we will have a love of God, and by God’s grace, we will win in the kingdom of God. We’re going for the gold. 

 

William Flippin Jr.
Flippin is pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Atlanta. He serves on the ELCA Church Council and as third vice president for the Georgia NAACP.

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