The Olympic Challenge: Refuse and Choose

by Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistOlympics

The Olympics.

Every four years I can’t help but tune in. Sports I never watch at any other time are now “must see TV.”

Watching swimming one evening, I was mesmerized by the closeness of the women’s 100-meter freestyle event, where the USA’s Simone Manuel and Canada’s Penny Oleksiak tied for the gold medal by touching the wall in exactly 52.70 seconds. The third place finisher, Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, was just .29 seconds behind, barely enough time to blink an eye. And the eighth place finisher? Still only .66 seconds from winning the gold.

That’s close.

Usually, the difference between gold and bronze, or between bronze and 8th place, is not just natural talent or luck. Instead it is the extra effort of adding the extra practice time, of working on a start—or a turn—just a little longer than someone else. It is early mornings in the weight room, running when it is raining outside or deciding to skip the “day off” or the “you deserve a break today” meal and sticking to the regimen, no matter what.

The difference, in a word, is choice. The greatest choose to do the most difficult tasks, and refuse those things which get in the way on the journey to victory.

So it is with the Christian life. The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 11 that Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing instead to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”

Moses had to refuse and choose in order to fulfill God’s will for his life. Each day, we face “refuse and choose” moments. These moments may seem quite small, but added up, they are significant.

As an athlete chooses one more repetition after a grueling day of workouts, we—if we want to truly win the Christian race—must often choose another moment in prayer, another few minutes in our study of God’s word or another hour pouring into someone else’s life if we want that extra breakthrough in our walk with Jesus Christ.

Rarely does someone have to sit down and tell us which are our “refuse and choose” moments. We know, because we sense the Lord’s tug in our spirit.

Athletes sometimes fall short, just as we do. But the greats get back up and start choosing again—because they are looking to the rewards of victory.

Let’s take heart. Yesterday is behind us. Today is another day to refuse . . . and another opportunity to choose. Let’s choose, and be victors in the race set before us.