1. “There’s so much we know about the human body. But we’re still amazed by the human spirit.” I know this quote comes from a GE commercial, but you have to admit– it’s a good quote, and a truth well illustrated by the Olympics. This year, we’ve seen athletes overcome tremendous pressure from their home countries, being shot in the legs, having prosthetic legs, training on dirt tracks, childhoods marked by war and slavery, turmoil at home, deaths of loved ones, injuries, illnesses, and past mistakes– just to name a few.
In something as physical and scientific as sport, it is amazing to see how much emotion and character still affect every win and every loss. It reminds us that God didn’t just create us as physical beings– but spiritual, emotional, transformable reflections of him. It reminds us that beyond the stats, scores, and medals, what we really want to see at the Olympics are good stories. It is good to look at one another and the feats of our fellow humans and be proud of what we are. It is even better to look at one another and say, “Look what our God has made and what he has done!”
2. We don’t know when to stop complaining. I did it just as much as anyone. Like McKayla Maroney, I was not impressed with NBC’s coverage of the Games. I especially didn’t like reading the outcomes of some of my favorite events on the Internet hours before I could watch them on TV. And, look, I’m still complaining. Maybe, at first, the complaints were warranted to let NBC know what viewers wanted for the next Olympics. But not to the degree that they kept coming. Like I said, I plead guilty. But NBC did a (gulp) decent job, especially with many of the inspiring stories mentioned above. Also, we got to watch the Olympics on TV from the comfort of our own homes, and had access to as many updates as we wanted from the Internet all day long. Though that might not meet our standards in 2012, it’s still a pretty cool thing and we should still be thankful that we get to observe the Olympics at all.
3. There are more Christian athletes offering their spotlights to God than we realize. Granted, we don’t know who’s just saying they want God to get the glory and who genuinely means it. But I was amazed by the sheer number of times I heard athletes quote Bible verses and credit God as the source of their amazing abilities and victories. The world would not cry foul if these remarkable men and women, like some of their competitors, took all the credit for themselves.
It would be easy to say, “I did this. I worked my butt off for years and years to get this. I’m the one who made my dreams come true. I’m the greatest.” But when we hear instead, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” we should be inspired rather than skeptical, and encouraging rather than apathetic. Would I be so willing to share my spotlight, my day of glory? Would you?
4. While governments can be divided and cultures can be different, people can still be united. We saw it when a rising, gold medal track star asked to switch bibs with a man who was marvel of science and spirit. We saw it when an American boxer tweeted this picture taken with his Iranian competitor at their medal ceremony. We saw it when the legendary Usain Bolt stopped an interview to pay respect to the national anthem of another athlete’s country. We saw it when Michael Phelps, receiving a rare silver medal, led the starry-eyed South African young man who beat him to their medal ceremony.
In the Olympics, we see not only the triumph of the human spirit, not only the competitive nature of the human spirit, but the camaraderie of the human spirit. Our God has not just made us able to perform, he has made us able to love. And performing an act of love is one of the greatest triumphs of all.
COMMENT: What would you add to this list? What was your favorite Olympic moment in 2012?