I love the Olympics – summer or winter – doesn’t matter. Every 2 years, I again get to enjoy the spectacle of many of the best athletes in the world coming together and showcasing their talents. I was born just as an Olympiad was starting, and I wonder if that contributes to my enjoyment of each Games. So with my fondness for Olympics and with this medium to put my thoughts and share stories with you, I will be taking the next couple of weeks to share the stories of some of the athletes who will compete representing their home countries, but will also compete representing their faith in Christ as well.
Kelly Clark won an Olympic gold medal at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. It would be amazing to be an Olympian, more amazing still to do so in your own country and maybe as good as it gets in the sporting world to win a Gold medal in your own country. That is part of Clark’s story. She was on top of the world, and as a snowboarding half-piper, she was actually soaring up in the air above the top of the world. Here is a video that talks about Clark and her gold medal run.
And yet, despite the fanfare and the congratulations and fame that now surrounded her. You can read in her story that there was an emptiness that was not filled by her successes. And it was weighing on her. She was still competing well, but inside, she was trying to find a purpose to her life. Then, at a competition, she overheard a comment made to a competitor that did not qualify for the next round. A supporting friend told this competitor that “God still loves you”. That comment sat with Clark, to the point where later on, Kelly would go and seek this girl out and ask her about God, and from that start, Clark spend some time getting to know God, reading His word and discovering the meaning to life that to that point had been eluding her.
Check out this video of Clark sharing her story:
She continues to be at a great competitor in the snowboarding world. She won a bronze in Vancouver in 2010. She is in Sochi this year, competing again and ready to do her best and share her purpose with others.
Here are my takeaways from Kelly’s story
1- You never know who’s listening, so be ready – Kelly was not having a conversation with this Christian on the slopes, but the words that were spoken stirred in her heart a yearning desire to know God. There is a challenge in this to not shy away from speaking about God and sharing His love wherever you go. Deuteronomy 6, in talking about God’s commands, tells us…
6 Take to heart these words that I give you today.7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up. 8 Write them down, and tie them around your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
We are to let what God has done in our lives be evident in our thoughts, words and actions. And how cool is it that a passing remark made to encourage one who needed it, would go to encourage another who needed it that wasn’t in on the conversation in the first place.
2- Never stop seeking God! – Clark heard those words about God’s love and it stirred her heart to take action. She sought out this God whose love was so expansive and continued to search for answers until she was convinced that God was the answer she had been looking for. Do we search with that same intensity once we know God or do we settle in to complacency and laziness settling on the God we think we know and losing the awe that drew us to Him in the first place. I know that I am challenged to continue to be fervent in my desire to know God more. He is faithful and will continue to reveal himself to us as we seek Him Jeremiah 29.13 tells us that when we seek God we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart. Nothing halfway. He persistently pursues us to show us His love. Let’s keep seeking Him so we can experience that love and be equipped to share it with others.