Friday, March 17, 2006

Come From Behind Wins

As I prepared to pounce on some of those momentary lapses of athletic poise (not unlike some of my own lapses, of course), someone commented to me on the performance of the Swiss woman who had been in the number-two position in the snowboard race for the gold medal. I recalled that she was at least 50 meters back when the American athlete decided to "hot-dog" it (play to the crowd, as they say) and fell. The replay shows the Swiss snowboarder flying by to the finish line (and the gold) as the American frantically tries to get back on track.
Go back five seconds before the fall when the American was so far out in front. Why didn't the Swiss boarder relax and settle for the second place silver medal? What made her keep pushing so that she was in a position to capitalize on the sudden fall of the leader and take the gold? Character, I guess.

"We live our lives under the discipline of uncertainty," wrote Fred Mitchell, an English missionary leader of 60 years ago. "We never know what emergencies may be approaching, what (opportunities) may be ripening, what chances may be on the way, what temptations (may be lying in) ambush ready to spring unawares."

Mitchell's words came back to me as I reflected on the sudden reversal of fortunes that brought the gold rather than the silver to the Swiss snowboarder. By not letting down, by demanding the best of herself—even when she was in second place—she put herself in position to benefit from the surprise.

The perseverance of the athlete in second place who understood uncertainty is the better story, much better, I think, than the disappointing hubris of the one who'd been in first.

-by Gordon MacDonald

Something I've experienced in a race. There's nothing like a come from behind Wins. I will expound on my reflections.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."