Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's the light of Christ, baby!

Priscilla Lopes-Schliep has just won the bronze medal in the women's 110-metre hurdles, and CBC commentator Diana Swain told about the time she interviewed Priscilla at the trials in Windsor, ON. Swain said she found there was "something different" about her that set her apart from the other athletes: a level of confidence the others didn't seem to have.

Let me hazard an educated guess. The answer was hanging around Priscilla's neck -- and I don't mean the bronze medal. The Cross.

Indeed, when Elliotte Friedman interviewed her, one of the first things she did was to thank everyone "for their prayers".

In other words, what Diana Swain picked up -- although she may not have realized it at the time -- was the light of Christ; the knowledge that one possesses that "X-factor", which can push someone beyond their worldly limits. I believe we saw a young woman who was humble in her performance: delighted, proud, happy for all those who'd supported her.

Some people sniff at the idea of athletes praying before or after a game, the team prayer circle or the ballplayer who crosses himself stepping up to the plate or who points Heaven-ward during the home run trot (or even after getting a base hit, for that matter). "What? Is God supposed to take sides, or be a Canucks fan all of a sudden?"

(The way the Canucks tend to snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory, evidently not.)

God does take sides: He supports, blesses and saves all who call on His name. He supports them, by strengthening them where they are weak and protecting them from unexpected injury and attack. That doesn't necessarily mean He'll rig the outcome, because God is not a fixer. But He will help someone to the absolute best performance they can turn in, and if the opponent still wins, it's because he or she performed even better.

Put another way, I could take on, say, Michael Jordan at a game of one-on-one hoops. I could spend two weeks prior to the competition in a combination of devout prayer and working on my outside shot, layup and vertical leap, but unless God wanted to teach Mike a lesson in humility, he would still take me, 125-6.

BUT ... I would have played my best game ever!

More to the point, I would have gone into that mis-match knowing it would be my best game ever, and Mike would have wondered about this serene confidence coming off this middle-aged guy.

And that, I believe, is what Diana Swain was picking up off Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. It was the Spirit, which, combined with God-given gifts, led to a world-class performance that makes a whole country feel really good!

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