The OLYMPICS and GRACE
Those of you who know me well, know that I’m somewhat of a “sports trivia nut." And I’m particularly an Olympics freak – I watched everything from badminton, to men’s and women’s wrestling and rugby, fencing, shooting, basketball, kayaking, gymnastics, track and field, and on and on – some 42 different sports and 306 events. [Yes, I’m retired and can do this. Even Lou Ann really “got into it.”] I know some of you could care less, but bear with me and the analogy I’m presenting.
First, if you don’t know, I’ll have to describe for you the ruling of “False Starts” in some Olympic events (sprinting events and swimming events particularly). A ‘False Start’ is when a runner or swimmer in their events starts early or even flinches after the race starter says “SET” (remember: “ready, set, go”). Anyone who starts early, flinches, or in any way distracts another racer after the starter says “set” is immediately disqualified! That’s right. No second chance! A world class athlete, after years of rigorous training, dieting, expenditure, and personal sacrifices, is OUT. They’re finished for that event. Can you even imagine the emotional agony, the anguish, the disappointment, the failure and loss for them? Is it fair? I personally don’t think so, but my opinion carries no weight with the Olympic Committee.
So, where am I going with my analogy? I’m making the case that “False Starts” in the Olympics are the exact opposite of God’s grace. I think the “Why?” may be obvious: In the Olympics you get one chance and one chance only. With our Lord we get no end to the number of chances (of ‘false starting’, of fouling up, of sinning). It’s called GRACE. Our God is the God of second chances – and many, many more. Isn’t this absolutely FANTASTIC for us! Absolutely! Our God is a God of infinite patience and forgiveness towards you and me. God is NOT wanting us to fail or “false start," not wanting to condemn us. No, he wants the opposite. Because of His love for us, He forgives and forgives, waits and waits on us, and despite whatever the ‘dirtiness’ is in our lives, He’s there to say “WELCOME!" This is called GRACE.
For those who have thought or continue to think that God doesn’t want me or I’m not deserving of God because I’ve done such and so à YOU HAVE IT BACKWARDS. I can just assure you that, YES HE DOES WANT YOU! [Remember, it’s the opposite of the “False Start” rule in the Olympics.] No matter what your circumstance, no matter how long you’ve done or been whatever, no matter what others have told you, our God of love and forgiveness and infinite chances wants YOU. He will accept you willingly and lovingly with all your ‘baggage.’ Don’t be stopped from prayerfully and lovingly approaching God by any of your life’s circumstances. It’s never too late. Isn’t God’s Grace beyond marvelous!!
Matthew 20:1-16 tells us this truth. It’s Jesus telling the Parable of the workers. The workers who came last and worked only one hour got the same pay [reward] as did those who had worked all day. So it is with those of us who decide to follow our God and His Son at any time. The timing has nothing to do with the ‘pay’ – the result – our reward. It’s the same for all. Again, it’s called GRACE.