by Heather Bock
Note: don’t miss entering to win a $25 certificate to Family Christian stores or FamilyChristian.com! Hurry, too, because they have a “B1G1 50% off” going on until August 25. Details are at the end of the post.
I have never been called a swimmer. I quit swim lessons early on as a child, and I even avoided pool parties whenever possible. I did have to swim in college quite a bit one season when I injured my hamstring while I was a collegiate runner, and I learned to almost like it, but I still try to find ways for my kids to enjoy our community pool safely without me (ahem, Greg).
I do, however, love the Olympics, and I will gladly watch almost any event–even swimming. It IS a lot more fun to watch than to do. I wasn’t up on the backstory of the rivalry between Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos before watching the 200 m. butterfly the other night, but I did notice something a little unusual for Olympic swimming–one swimmer in a green cap looking over at Michael Phelps as he swam instead of focusing ahead like the others. In some ways, swimming is like running, a sport with which I’m very familiar. One of the rules of racing in cross country or track is to never look back at your competitors. Now, technically, Chad le Clos was looking ahead to Michael Phelps (sorry to have to point that out, Chad), but his eyes were focused on his rival’s race instead of his own. The result: Michael won, and Chad came in fourth.
The apostle Paul was familiar with the Olympics as well, and a few times compared how we should live our Christian life with the rigor of an Olympic athlete. In I Corinthians 9:24, 26, he says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win…Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim.”
How do we run (or swim, to keep with our current theme) our spiritual race so that we may win? There’s not just one answer to this question, but a clue lies in verse 26: “as not without aim.” This double negative might be confusing, but it simply means our spiritual race has to have a clear goal in mind. We have to keep our eyes set on that purpose. What is our purpose? I would argue it is to glorify God. Our eyes need to be set on Jesus, not on those who are swimming beside us.
Do you find yourself thinking anything like this?
Wow, look at that picture of Colleen on Facebook! I can tell she’s such a good mom. I wish I could be as good a mom as she is.
I never want to pray out loud in our small group after hearing Cynthia. Her prayers are so spiritual and emotional. She must be so much closer to God than I am.
I’ve never been on a mission trip. That group that went to Nepal must be following God better than I am.
I know I’ve thought similar thoughts at times. We can learn from other Christians farther along in their journey, and they can and should spur us on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). I know many great athletes learn from past great athletes. In fact, before the big race, I’m sure Chad le Clos studied his competition to better himself.
However, Chad probably not only studied Michael to learn from him, but also to beat him. The comparison of our spiritual race to a physical race breaks down here. We can’t think of our fellow swimmers as competition. We’ll know we’re making the wrong kind of comparison (many times based on assumptions) when we become either discouraged or prideful. The discouragement tempts us not to perform our best out of love for God (who loves and accepts us no matter how we perform), and the pride often causes us to think about ourselves and the praise we’ll receive from others for our performance.
Chad le Clos would do well to learn from Michael Phelps, an amazing athlete, but once he dives into that water, he would do better to focus his mind on his own swim. We, too, must keep the focus of our eyes away from the lanes beside us and onto the imperishable Gold of Jesus Christ.
Comment below if you’ve been distracted by other people’s spiritual races. What did you learn from it?
Drawing for $25 Certificate to Family Christian Stores
I was given the opportunity to give away one $25 certificate to Family Christian stores or FamilyChristian.com (no minimum required purchase–just like a regular gift card) if I would give a review describing my shopping experience with them. I had no physical Family Christian stores near where I live, even though there are 250 nationwide (I live in a fairly small town), so I did my shopping online. I ended up buying Strong-Willed Child or Dreamer by Dana Spears and Ron Braund, and Lauren Daigle’s How Can It Be Deluxe Edition (which I’m really excited to receive). Here goes!
I’ll start with the negatives, and keep in mind that I do most of my online shopping with Amazon, so I can’t help but compare Family Christian to them.
- I couldn’t preview songs on their site, so I had to go to Amazon to help me decide which cd to buy.
- They didn’t have the cd I wanted most: Rend Collective’s Campfire. Very sad!
- Their prices are higher than Amazon’s prices.
- I had trouble getting the store locator to work the first several times I tried it, but it did eventually work.
- There were some glitches in the purchasing process, causing me to have to re-enter my information several times.
- I had trouble making my own $25 certificate take effect along with the B1G1 discount at first, but I entered the certificate code in the coupon blank instead of the gift card blank, and it finally worked.
- Free shipping only comes with a $50 purchase.
- They had an awesome “Buy One, Get One 50% Off” sale going on! The sale applied to most of what they sold. It will still be going until August 25.
- They didn’t actually carry the (in low demand) book I wanted to order, but they had a “special order” option. Apparently, it will come to me later, but they will order it for me from a vendor or partner. I was glad to have that option.
- They have a surprisingly good blog on their site, with posts from Beth Moore, Lysa Terkeurst, Amy Carroll (whose book I recently reviewed), and others.
- They have a rewards program, but I didn’t sign up for it.
- They have gift options, if I had wanted to send anything to someone else.
- I could check out as a guest, so I didn’t have to give them all my information permanently, which I liked better.
- Best of all, they are a not for profit organization. Since 2012, they have been giving 100% of their earnings to Christian charities such as Back2Back Ministries, Pray America, and World Vision.
Although I had some difficulties with the technical side of their site, and I really wished they carried Campfire, I was surprised at what I could order from them. Amazon provides me with the ability to give 10% of what I order to a charity of my choice, but I know their main goal is profit for themselves. It’s nice that Family Christian’s end goal is to make profit for those who need it.
I noticed they had a wide variety of books, commentaries, Bibles, movies, and cds. I was interested in several of their books, like Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford and Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. I was glad to see they had my friend Hannah Hall’s book God Bless You and Good Night, and I was intrigued by a children’s book by Ravi Zacharias: Merchant and the Thief: a Folktale from India. They even have décor and apparel–there really is a lot from which to choose.
Enter to Win
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If you’ve already subscribed, or if you just want more entries, you can earn entries (up to 2 more) by sharing this post via Facebook and/or Twitter. Remember, though, you have to be subscribed for your share(s) to count as entries.
Be sure to let me know in a comment if you’ve shared in a place where I won’t be notified and give your name so I can announce the name of the winner. I will announce the winner next Wednesday, so look for it! Thank you!
Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada only.