God’s people are athletes running a race

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Local columnist

Hi, my name is Curtis and I’m a Winter Olympicaholic.

As I write, the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver are themselves closing. Seventeen days sounded like a good long time, but now the Olympic flame is being extinguished. Our neighbors to the north did a bang-up good job. Now, four long years to wait for the next Winter Games.

When we get to view that kind of quality, it’s frustrating to watch even the obligatory commercials which this year are often either politicians’ attack ads (which make me want to vote for “none of the above”) or reminders that the vast cesspool/wasteland that most television has become will soon be back.

Among the amazing Olympic stories, two of the most impressive this time centered on the two women who were named as the joint recipients of the 2010 Terry Fox Award, given to honor athletes who “embody the same spirit as Terry Fox, the young amputee who lost a leg to cancer yet set out to run across Canada in 1980 to raise funds for cancer research” (Vancouver Sun). Both of the honorees won bronze medals. Both medals were worth more than gold.

We were inspired by Joannie Rochette, the Canadian figure skater whose mother died suddenly of a heart attack just before Joannie was scheduled to compete. She chose to stay and compete, and she was amazing.

The other honoree, Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic, faced a challenge of a different sort.

I watched Majdic’s story unfold on the screen. The announcers mentioned that a strange accident had occurred in a warm-up before the women’s cross-country “sprint classic.” Serious injuries in cross-country skiing are rare, but Majdic had hit slushy snow and fallen into a ravine, banging her back into something hard. Obviously in pain, she was helped out of the culvert. A medal contender, she missed her starting time, and it was questionable if she’d be allowed to race even if she was physically able.

I was glad when the judges decided to let her start later, if she was able. And start she did. As the camera followed her, the commentator noted that you could hardly tell that she had been injured. Though she started at a much later time than the starting position she’d earned, she not only finished, she won bronze, “Slovenia’s first medal in cross-country.” Only after she finished did she collapse in pain. Later in the hospital it was discovered that she had raced with five broken ribs and a punctured lung. Utterly amazing!

Majdic said that after she was injured, she’d wanted to simply finish the race to honor those who had believed in her. She did better than finish!

In the New Testament, God’s people are pictured as athletes running a race. Let’s strive to honor the One who has called and empowered us to run.


Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at ckshel@aol.com