God's Olympic Team

May 18, 2021 | perspective | Natashia McVay

We each remember things we as children viewed with joy and excitement. One of those things for me was watching the Olympics. We gathered as a family and watched as amazing athletes from around the world competed to see who was the best at each sport. It was a time of admiration and patriotism.

As a result of COVID-19, last year’s Olympic games were postponed until summer 2021. As I have thought with joy of the upcoming games, I was reminded of a past Olympic victory.

One of my earliest Olympic memories was of a young female gymnast. Kerri Strug helped the American women’s gymnastics team win gold at the 1996 Olympics when she stuck the landing on her final vault attempt. What is amazing about this victory is that, in the process of landing the vault, she broke her foot and still managed to achieve a perfect score, giving the American team the lead and the gold medal.

It’s memories like these, and the excitement of this year’s upcoming games, that has caused me to thoughtfully consider what it takes to be part of God’s Olympic team.

There are STEPs we each need to take to be part of this special winning team — practical strides to help us reach the finish line in this life and the next. The first skill we need is strength.

S Is for Strength

When we think of strength, we initially think of physical strength. While this is important in life, as we look at our lives as Christians we need more than just physical strength. To survive as Christians, we need to pursue spiritual strength, and this comes through several specific avenues.

Spiritual strength is often talked of in lofty terms. Pastors and theologians give lengthy explanations on how to gain spiritual strength. Steps are given for how to work to gain strength, to get “stronger” spiritually. I think we need to simplify things because the simpler it is the more likely we are to attempt it.

Reading and immersing ourselves in Scripture is the starting point for gaining spiritual strength in our lives. Paul, who knew of the many challenges we face in our lives, wrote often of finding strength outside ourselves through the power of God living in us. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might," Paul says. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." (Eph. 6:10–11).

The armor of God is an excellent simple way to look at what’s needed to gain spiritual strength. Our armor must include the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of peace, a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. None of these come through our own strength; rather, we must submit to God and allow Him to strengthen us and give us these pieces of armor. These are free gifts — all the armor we need is available to each one of us free of charge. The only thing we need to do is accept the free gift of grace and salvation through Jesus.

We go to the gym, we run, we hike, we train to gain physical strength, yet would we resist the ultimate gift of spiritual strength in our lives free of charge? Search Scripture and see the many promises of strength through Jesus, strength through His power.

Spiritual strength comes through no strength of our own. It comes through God working in our lives. As we journey through life, the biggest challenge is to give up our own strength and our own will and give into God in our lives. When we give up our lives to God, when we let Him be our strength, we become part of the ultimate winning team — God’s Olympic team.