The 30th Olympic Games have finally kicked off, but a single word of the introduction during the opening ceremony reverberated in my mind. Over the coming competitions we will see athletes rise to the top of the podium to claim Olympic gold, while so many others look on in disappointment and defeat. We will hear stories of wins that came by tenths and hundredths of a second, and even a decimal point of difference too fine for the human eye to detect. These athletes will give their very best in a moment to win the highest prize and obtain global recognition, but their success did not happen in that moment.
What many observers fail to understand is the commitment the Olympic athletes make to take them to the top. It is commitment to a single word: Repetition. Imagine a young girl running across a strip of floor, launching off of a spring board into the air where multiple acrobatic flips, twists and turns happen in the blink of an eye, and then coming down to land on both legs without a single hop. The score lights up, and we see she has scored a perfect 10. The audience cheers and she takes the top of the stand where flowers, recognition, and Olympic gold are hers. What so many people do not truly understand is that this is not the first time she has executed a perfect 10.
Over many days, weeks and years she has trained her body to perform the moves. Day in and day out she runs, hits a spring board, flies through the air, lands, and then does it all over again. For many hours in the day she will run, hit a spring board, fly through the air and land. She will do this again, and again, and again, and again. Weeks will pass as she hones her skill. Competitions will verify who among her class is truly the best our nation has to offer. Around the world, such competitions will take place. Then, when she has proven to be the best in the nation, she will be chosen to compete against the very best that the rest of the world has to offer. Run, jump, fly, land, repeat.
At some point during the Olympics, she will be asked to run, jump, fly, and land one last time. If she can do it flawlessly one more time, only then will she win Olympic gold. The whole event itself is over in seconds, but years have brought her to this moment. Success, however, will never be determined in a moment. Success was determined long ago, in her day to day struggle to run faster, her every day refinement of jumping off the springboard exactly correct, the honing of each of her muscles as they tighten to move her body spinning and flying through the air, her synced coordination as she unfolds her body to land perfectly, and her will to commit to the arduous task of repetition. Run, jump, fly, land, repeat.
The recognition for winning in the Olympics is not really a recognition of a single moment on a single day of victory. What we are really recognizing are the years spent in the patient repetition of perfection that comes on display in a moment, but a perfection that had always been there day after day.
It reminds me that life is a marathon. If we are to find success as a parent, if we are to find success on the job, if we are to find success in marriage, we have to remember that our success will not be found in a moment. Success will be built into our lives through patient repetition of doing what is right, and only recognized in fleeting moments. How do you build a successful marriage? How do you train children do to what is right? How do you find success in your Christian life? You build it each and every day with each decision you make. You forge it with patience, and a commitment to the repetition of excellence.
Hebrews 12:1 " . . . run with patience . . . " Run, jump, fly, land, repeat.