Olympic Gifts

For the last couple of weeks the men in my household have been wandering around with silly, eager grins on their faces counting down the days until the start of Summer Olympics. I, for one am glad the games have finally begun – mainly because I’m not subjected to those annoying daily countdowns anymore!

I’ll admit though, I’ve been as excited as the men in my household as I love watching the games nearly as much as they do. I plan on being very unproductive for the next two weeks as most of my time will be spent parked in front of the TV.

I find myself engrossed in sporting events that I normally wouldn’t bother watching; everything from Archery to Synchronized Diving and everything in between. There’s something fundamentally patriotic about global competition that stirs my unwavering support of these young athletes.

I love hearing The Star spangled Banner played over and over — the more the better, I say.  It always brings a tear to my eye and causes a lump in my throat and makes me proud just to be a spectator. But beyond my emotion I’m moved by the commitment to succeed and the resolute determination that drives these young men and women to compete for their homelands.

Watching athletes of that caliber makes me a tad jealous, though, as I’m not hard-wired for that level of competition nor do I possess the drive necessary to push my body to such extremes. Never had it — never will.  I’ve played sports over the years but my body wasn’t designed for running, jumping or rigorous physical activity. I’m more of a weekend warrior rather than a career athlete. Dang it.

Most of us know that competing as a world-class Olympian requires more than just great training and dedication. It requires inborn God-given talent. Before competitive athletes ever entered a training facility they had to have desire and a certain amount of natural born talent.

Playing a sport well can be a learned or taught with the help of coaches, trainers and mentors, but true deep-down talent is placed in us by the Creator. Clearly not everyone agrees with my logic.

Exodus 31:6 says: “Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make …” This is God speaking to Moses regarding the materials to be used in the building of the tabernacle. This verse says to me that God gave special skills — or that little something extra to people who were already naturally gifted.

Obviously those who don’t share my creationism beliefs would argue to the contrary claiming success as solely the result of individual physical superiority. This is why I love all the personal stories of athletes who are humble enough to give God a certain amount of credit when it comes to their athletic successes.

Win or lose – gold, silver or bronze — the honor of competing for your country is truly a privilege. It’s evident in these games that most of the athletes recognize that honor – whether they recognize that their gifts are God-given or not.

Go team USA!

What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God. ~Eleanor Powell

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13 (NLT)

There’s no “App” for Waiting on God!

It’s sad, but you know you’re getting older when you’ve advanced to that age when you preface every statement with “Why, when I was your age …”

Trust me when I say, I hate to hear these words or anything resembling them, come out of my own mouth. I’m not even sure when the transformation took place, but through some weird twist of genetic osmosis, I’ve become my parents!

Take something as simple as payday, for example.

Even though it pains me to say it, it must be said – “why, when I was younger, it used to be that you’d work all week, get handed your paycheck and then mosey on over to the bank where you’d wait in line inside in the bank lobby with all the other hard-working stiffs. If you were smart, you’d stash a little bit of cash in your savings for that proverbial rainy-day and if you were lucky, you’d have a little spending money left over. You’d leave the bank with a fistful of filthy bills and feel like a winner because you had a little cash in your wallet. Usually the bank trip was followed by making the rounds and paying a couple of bills – oftentimes in person, and if not in person, you’d go home and write out your checks to put in the mail … yes an actual mail box!

Back in my day we didn’t have drive-through tellers, direct deposit, debit cards, online banking or online bill pay. Why, we went all the way through school without the internet and Google! Kids nowadays … Yeesh, have they got it easy!

Things nowadays have progressed to such a point that you never actually see the money you’ve worked all week for. All of my kids receive a check stub on payday letting them know their hard-earned dollars have been auto-deposited into their accounts. At which point, bills are paid online or with a swipe of a debit card.

Kids never carry cash and swipe their debit cards for a pack of gum or a soda. These same kids have no idea what a checkbook is as they keep their bank balances online and wouldn’t even know how to write a check without using an app on their iPhone – if they even have checks that is. Most kids don’t.

Just today I was indulging in a little retail therapy, because it was that kind of day — and the cashier offered me payment options with my purchase, suggesting either a debit card or credit card. I laughed that condescending amusement of the middle-aged and asked if cash was still an acceptable form of payment. The poor thing was likely as old as the shoes I was wearing and looked at me as if I’d suddenly grown another appendage.

“Cash …” she said, shaking her head in confusion. “Uhm … yeah, I guess that’s okay, too.”

I suspect since this is how the 21st century operates, it should come as no surprise to any of us “seasoned adults” that most young people these days look at God much the same way they look at monetary conveniences. Got a problem? Just fire off an email request and expect God to direct deposit a ready solution for your difficulty.

It’s hard for this generation to comprehend waiting on God. After all, technological advances offer us microwave dinners, drive-through meals, banking, dry-cleaning and even weddings; not to mention the ease of online shopping and bill paying. And let’s not forget all those jobs that afford the luxury of telecommuting from the comfort of home. It’s becoming increasingly easier to survive within the four walls of your home without leaving for any purpose whatsoever.

So it’s really not unreasonable when you think about it, to submit our prayers to God and expect Him to be Mr. Johnny-on-the-spot and answer our prayers, pronto like. The idea of actually sitting around and waiting for an hour … a day … a week … or heaven forbid – longer — shocking! You mean there’s not an app for that?

It may be the 21st century and the Bible may have been written over 2,000 years ago, but God is still the same God yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and His Word hasn’t changed.

When David uttered the words, in the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly, he was wise enough to know that the waiting part was completely at God’s discretion and in His timing. (Psalm 5:3)

Sorry, kids, but there’s no app for waiting on God. Praying and waiting will always remain an exercise of patience. If you need to hear from God, you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way and that’s not subject to change or technology.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. ~John Quincy Adams

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)