Today is the opening ceremony for the Olympics and to say that I love the Olympics might be an understatement.
I love, love, love the Olympics! This year COVID will be an unwanted influence and will make for a unique experience; but I’m still excited and you can guess what I’ll be doing for the next two weeks.
Like many of you, I’ve been both inside and outside of my passport country during the Olympics. We’ve gotten to experience how different cultures and countries both cover, experience, and celebrate them. Even ignore them.
One particularly painful taxi ride in Beijing comes to mind. I was stuck in traffic and the taxi driver was listening to an Olympic summary show on the radio.
Announcer: This is the national anthem when So-and-so won the gold for such-and-such event.
The national anthem was played. It was inspiring and fun to relive that moment.
Announcer: This is the national anthem when THIS famous athlete won the gold for this other event.
The national anthem was played. It was inspiring and but less fun to relive that moment. Why is the traffic not moving?!
Announcer: This is the national anthem when So-and-so won the gold for yet another event.
The national anthem was played. And I realized that I was going to be trapped, listening to the national anthem on repeat until Jesus came back or the traffic finally started moving.
Anyone else discover that are different sports than the ones you thought were key sports in the Olympics? Hours of badminton and pingpong . . . to say nothing of every single moment of diving being telecast. I’m all for diving, but hours and hours and hours and hours? No thank you. Where’s the track and field? Where’s the swimming or gymnastics?
You might think these experiences have dampened my enthusiasm. You, my dear friend, would be wrong. I understand that the Olympics are flawed. That in many ways they mirror what is wrong with our world and the inequity many experience daily.
But the Olympics are also a foretaste of heaven.
—The many flags and countries.
—The athletes and teams who get to showcase their talents and hard work.
—The inspiring stories and humanizing of the athletes and the obstacles they’ve faced.
—The inspiring of what I could do with my own body. (As a young child I distributed trashcans around the family room and “hurdled.” Every single Olympics I come away marveling at how God has made the human body. Amazing, amazing, amazing.)
—The taste of different cultures.
—Let’s not forget the playing of the national anthems. Though annoying on repeat in a taxi cab, they reflect an athlete playing for something greater than just him or herself. As the atheles stand on the podium and watch the three flags flutter, the athletes look up to a flag that represents more than just them.
—The surprises! The heartbreak of those who thought they’d win and didn’t. Those who experienced injury or illness at such an inopportune time. And the lesser known athletes who succeed far beyond their wildest dreams.
To my fellow Olympian Lovers, I raise my metaphorical glass to you and say, “To the next two weeks and to the many countries we love! May God remind the world how very much He loves it.”
Let the games begin! Thank you Tokyo for all you have overcome to bring us together.
P.S. For years I have contemplated what sports will be like in heaven. (I told you, I really love sports!) So I’ll d thinking about this also during the Olympics. What sport would you loved to see in a perfectly redeemed form?