But He also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure.
In the wonderful 1981 film "Chariots Of Fire" which tells the story of two real-life British sprinters who ran at the 1924 Olympics - Harold Abrahams (a Jew) and Eric Liddell (a Christian) - the latter character says at one point
“I believe God made me for a purpose (to be a missionary in China). But He also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give that up would be to hold Him in contempt. …to win is to honour Him…"
Personally, I have always taken great pleasure from watching sport events (athletics, cycling, football, swimming, etc…) - as well as taking part in sport myself - and my memories are marked by particular sporting moments that have been exhilarating, dramatic, triumphant, tragic or even moving. As I have got older I have come to truly appreciate the words said by Eric Liddell's character in "Chariots Of Fire" in relation to the talents that each of us are given and it gives me great pleasure to help young people discover and develop their own talents and abilities. When I see the joy that they give to others through the expression of their talents (through sport, music, theatre, etc…) I know that God feels that joy too and is honoured by their achievements.
But, he is also honoured by those who aren't so talented, who aren't high achievers, but who are at least prepared to have a go and do their best, perhaps more so even by these. For they do not receive a crown of glory for their efforts, nor do they get to wear a medal around their neck, at least not in this life. And without them there can be no gold medal winners.
18 months ago a friend of mine in a prayer group said that Chaplains were needed for the forthcoming London Olympics and that she felt I should apply. I did so. And thus began a year-long process during which over 300,000 potential (unpaid) volunteers applied for a variety of different jobs (transport, security, public relations, accommodation, catering, drug testing, sport administration… and chaplaincy). About 70,000 were eventually selected. I was lucky enough to be one of them. As I live within a 90 minute drive of the location of the Sailing Village in Weymouth, I was asked if I would work there instead of at the main village in London.
I will be part of a 6-person multi-faith team, working in shifts two at a time, from July 16th (11 days before the Games start) until the end of the Games on Aug. 12th. As well as organising and leading twice daily times of prayer (for the different faiths), we are asked to be available to respond to any needs that may occur during our time there, spiritual needs in particular, but not exclusively - for the other volunteers and paid workers, as well as for the sailors themselves - and thus help to create an atmosphere in the Village that is conducive to the sailors performing to the best of their ability.
It is quite likely that helping competitors to deal with disappointment and failure will be our biggest challenge: those who do not get the chance to wear a medal around their necks. I hope and pray that the Spirit may work through us and help us to know what to do or say during those moments. I also hope and pray that through my work at the Olympics I might honour Him and bring Him joy.
We might each ask ourselves the question: what way of life, what choices in my life would give God most pleasure? And how might I best honour Him?
Proudly wearing my Games Maker volunteer uniform.