Even given that several sports will offer team medals, when the Games of the XXXI Olympiad are over, there will have been far more athletes participating than there were actual medals awarded.
And the 11,000 or so athletes at the Games represent only a tiny fraction of those who originally had hopes of being there. Along the way, untold tens of thousands (perhaps even hundreds of thousands) of other athletes worldwide were eliminated in the trials and competition leading up to the selection of Olympic athletes.
It is for this multitude of “Also Rans” that I share my post today. It concerns one Florence Chadwick, a gifted swimmer of a generation ago. It seems that...
When she was young, Florence Chadwick wanted desperately to be a great speed swimmer. At the age of six she persuaded her parents to enter her in a 50-yard race. She came in last, so she practiced every day for the new year. Again she entered and lost.
When she was an 11-year old, Florence won attention and praise for completing the San Diego Bay endurance swim - 6 miles in all. But she still wanted to be a speed swimmer. At 14, she tried for the national backstroke championship but came in second to the great Eleanor Holm. At 18, she tried out for Olympic speed swimming and came in fourth - only three made the team.
Frustrated, she gave it up, married, and moved on to other interests. As she matured, however, Florence began to wonder if she might not have done better if she had specialized in endurance swimming, something that came more naturally. So, with the help of her father, she began swimming distances again.
Twelve years after she had failed to make the Olympic team (when she was 30 years old), Florence Chadwick swam the English Channel, breaking Gertrude Ederle's 24-year-old record. It took a little time, but eventually she found out what she could do best and did it.
Now, herein is a significant truth. We may not all qualify as Olympic athletes. (And even if we do, we may not make it to the medal stand once there.) But that does not mean we do not have our own unique set of God-given talents and skills.
Ethel Waters once famously said, “I am somebody cause God don’t make no junk!” How true that is. Each and every one of us, as human beings, is uniquely created in the image of Almighty God, and as such, we are endowed by our creator with our own unique set of gifts.
And if we will but persist in the pursuit of discovery, we will eventually be rewarded with knowledge of what this skill set is, and of how we can best put it to use for the glory of the God Who created us.
Admittedly, few things are as delightful as watching Olympic athletes at the top of their game. As the Olympics show us, raw talent combined with hard work often produces incredible accomplishments followed by appropriate glory on the medal stand!
But surely one thing that does compare is witnessing a person discover and employ his or her God-given talents in life! Especially when they do so less for themselves and more for the benefit of others and /or for the glory of God!
SOURCE: From a sermon on John 4:27-34 titled "Where There's a Will, There's A Way.", preached March 28, 2011 at First Baptist church of New Sweden, Maine. This message is available online at: http://www.fbcns.com/Sermon-_March_28__2011.rtf. Here, the citation there is from Crossroads Magazine, Issue No. 7, p. 19.