The Way of a Champion

It was a breezy Saturday morning.  Really a perfect morning to celebrate my boy's 5th birthday.
Friends and family gathered to celebrate the life God had thought up long before the earth took shape.

At the very same time that we were praising God for his goodness in the life of our boy, 
I got a call from a friend.

Words and tears later, I learned that the unexpected had happened.
Our friend (who Cole calls Uncle Bryan), had fallen.
He had fallen in the middle of a race that we had prayed, he'd win.
We ALL prayed.  
Our whole church, days before, had covered Bryan and Sarah in prayer
as they made they way up north for the Olympic Trials.

For four years, Bryan had been working toward a goal.
He wanted to make history, and be the first decathlete to ever earn a medal in three consecutive Olympics.
He had already felt the weight of silver in Athens and gold in Beijing, and was back to defend his title
of "World's Greatest Athlete" in London this summer.

Everything was going well.
Training the months prior were smooth,
and all indicators pointed toward Bryan earning another spot on the Olympic Team this year.

And then it happened.
In a matter of seconds, the course of the dream shifted.
Bryan fell toward the end of his 110 meter race over the hurdles.

A one second mistake in a race that spans two full days and ten events, 
meant that a four year long dream was over.

At the very same time, another race was taking place.
It was a race hidden from news cameras and sports reporters.
My son and his friends raced on their bikes through the park, all to celebrate the life of a five-year-old boy.

At one point, Cole took a wrong turn.
He turned right and sailed uphill while the rest of his friends continued on the main path.
He collapsed off his bike in tears, devastated that he had made a mistake that separated him from his friends.
Then the most amazing thing happened.  
Cole's friends, one by one, got off their bikes and waited for him to get on his bike
and lead the group up the right path, once again.

Cole's race wasn't about making an Olympic team or one with the promise of gold, silver or bronze at the end.  
The value of this race was in the journey itself...a story of friends standing beside one another,
even if it cost them a first place finish when it was all over.

Cole looks up to "Uncle Bryan" as someone he wants to be like when he grows up.
Many kids I know, do.
He has a silver medal, and a gold, and I know he has inspired many to press on toward dreams
the Lord has planted in their hearts, one step of obedience and determination at a time.
But now, he has another story too.
One that I know will inspire many others whose story does not have a gold medal ending.

This story is one of perseverance through trials, where depth of character is formed.

"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, 
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 
perseverance, character; and character, hope."  
Romans 5:3-4

Once Bryan knew his chances of making the Olympic team this year were over, instead of
throwing in the towel and walking off the track forever, he decided to finish the race he knew he'd never win.
Hearing the cheers of his kids in the stands, he brushed himself off, and with a deep breath and a prayer,
he finished the remaining three events in the decathlon that day.

Four years ago, his journey at the Trials lead him to an Olympic performance
that earned him the title of the "World's Greatest Athlete."
This year, the ending was different, but in the eyes of those who already considered him a champion,
he became much more than that.  His humble example of pressing on even in the face of adversity,
stirred the hearts of thousands who, days after his fall, petitioned the governing bodies
for him to have another chance to fill a space that no one had yet earned.
Instead of three decathletes this year, the USA Track and Field team will have only two going to London.

When Jesus lived on this earth, every breath he breathed was for the benefit to those He loved.
His disciples didn't always understand his journey at the time,
but Jesus knew His Father's plan spanned far beyond the years He spent on earth.
He was born...for us.
He lived...for us.
He WE could live.

We are never more like our Savior when we consider others before our self.
None of Jesus' journey was a fair...but every step was propelled by love.

Just like an Olympic Champion who keeps racing so that his kids can see how a race is REALLY won,
I pray this same spirit of perseverance and integrity over the kids I tuck into bed every night.
Living a little longer than they have, I've known my share of falls.
There are times I'd rather hide in a cave than press on in the race of life we've all been called to live,
but God doesn't call us to hide or run away after falling.
There is no glory for Him in that.

Instead, God says this...
"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 the race marked out for us."
- Hebrews 12:1 

It is for his glory that we run...and in His strength, rise when we fall.
May you be blessed as you run the race He's marked out for Him ALL the glory
for the gold medal moments, as well as the ones you never thought would be part of your story.
Whether you are a 5 year old boy who is deaf or an olympic champion, God is FOR you in your journey.
May the world know the greatness of our God, by the way we run...trusting Him alone with the finish.


  1. I loved this! I actually cried a little. ;) great story, great analogy. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Katy...we cried A LOT actually for the loss of a friend's dream, but God is so good in giving us back better dreams in the process of letting go...thanks for your encouragement! :)

  2. I read this in work earlier and it encouraged my heart so much. Yes - it is all about the journey! Thank you so much for this little piece of encouragement :) xx

    1. Thank you Laura! And yes...Praise God for the purpose in every step of the journey! :)

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.