The Worst Olympics Ever
Saturday - May 21st
Today's Scripture to Read: Hebrews 12:1-3
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
In 1904, St. Louis hosted the first summer Olympics outside of Europe. Traveling to a city in the center of the United States was not easy that early in the 20th Century. Only 12 countries participated. Of the 651 Olympians who competed, 526 were Americans. The organizer of the event experimented with a theory that athletes were slowed by drinking too much water. So, to the detriment of the athletes, water sources were extremely limited throughout the Olympics. The hot summer days of the Midwest were over 90 degrees and had consistently high humidity in 1904.
Of the 32 runners in the marathon that year, only 14 completed the race. The first across the finish line was American Fred Lorz. He ran nine miles, gave up, and hitchhiked back to the Olympic Stadium on the publicly used dirt road designated as the marathon track.
The car he was riding in broke down, and he had to run the rest of the way. As he crossed the finish line, he was hailed the winner. While he was taking pictures to document his victory, someone shouted from the crowd they had seen Lorz in a car heading to the finish line. Lorz confessed, and race officials looked for the real winner.
Thomas Hicks emerged as that man. As Hicks got tired in the middle of the race, his trainers gave him brandy laced with strychnine. Instead of reinvigorating their runner as was the thinking in that day, the brandy strychnine concoction rendered Hicks almost unconscious. Seeing the finish line, his trainers carried him across it, dragging his feet as he barely moved them in a running motion. Hicks was declared the winner. What a race! Hebrews 12:1-3 describes the Christian experience as a race. Verse one emphasizes that we have the heroes of the faith cheering us on in the stadium. It explains how important it is for us to drop anything distracting that is weighing us down as we run. Finally, the verse reminds us that we are in a race to which God Himself has called us. Verse two encourages us to keep our eyes on Jesus. He has run the race before us. He left us a pattern to follow. Verse three tells us not to grow weary in running the race of faith because Christ Himself endured so much. How have you been running the race? As you pursue living and loving like Jesus, are you keeping your eyes on Him? Have things in your life weighed you down - limiting your ability to continue pursuing Christ in running the race. Are you getting weary or worn out? Not all distractions are bad things in and of themselves. But, anything, even the blessings in our lives, can become diversions as we run the race. Write down a list of things that have or could easily distract you from Jesus. Confess the ones that currently move your focus to someone or something other than Him. Ask God to help you guard your life from those that could overtake you and distract you.
As you run the race, keep your eyes on the ultimate prize - Jesus Christ!