A Voice in the
Wilderness

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*** PORTIONS ***

Re: Falling, and Persevering

"..for a just man may fall seven times, and rise up again; but the wicked shall stumble into evil." (Pr24:16)

Since Paul spoke of athletics of his day, we can also use the Olympics for an object lesson. Before the current (2004 Greek) Olympics I saw a documentary on public TV as to what the original olympic games would have been like. They could actually be quite gruesome, as competitors were expected to cheat and win AT-ALL-COSTS. They competed in the nude, and often losers not only lost the competition, but also their lives, as the victor killed them. There was no such thing as Gold, Silver & Bronze. There was but -one- victor, and everybody else might as well hang their heads in shame.

This is the backdrop of Paul's comment: "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?" (1co9:24a)

Interesting how there can be only -one- 'winner', when one sees the margins by which winners come in 1st. When the US men's swimming relay took the Gold away from (7-year/time reigning) Australia, the difference was a mere 10th of a second! Who can actually -see- such a difference?

But that verse also ends this way: "Run in such a way that you may obtain it."

Last Wednesday evening I watched the re-broadcast of the men's individual gymnastics competition. They had 5 (I think? or is it "6"? for our present consideration it doesn't matter) events to compete in. As they compete each event, the judges give them scores. I don't understand everything about the scoring: but I was getting the impression that if they added good things to the routine, they could get points added. (?) But for sure, if they messed up, points are deducted. And scores, thus added up, come out to 3-decimal places. e.g. 9.xxx And as the different routines are done, the scores from all the routines keep getting added up for an overall 'total' score.

As the first couple of routines are done, there immediately becomes a hierarchy as to who is leading, and who trails them, in what order. As they began the Chinese and American were basically tied for 1st place, and others trailing off from that. They were giving stunning performances.

Then, for the American (Paul Hamm) came the Vault. It is amazing what they do: rotating, twisting, spinning; and they sometimes come 'spinning/rotating' down to the mat, and then they are expected to "stick" the landing. In other words, land squarely on both feet, no bounce, no balance-retrieving extra step, etc. Well, Paul Hamm did marvelously in-the-air, summer-saulting, twisting down to the landing...but then he completely lost it! He did not simply bounce, or take an extra step; he completely lost his balance, fell over sideways, off the mat, and practically on-top of the judges.

Oooo! Not good at all! Where the scores had been in the mid-9s, this routine gained him 8.xxx. From tied 1st place clear down to 12th! NO CHANCE for a medal!

So, what did Hamm do? Go in a corner, throw up his hands with "What's the use?! I give up!" ??? NOPE!!

The remaining routines he performed (what looked to my untrained eye) 'flawless' routines; garnering 9.xxx's. In the mean time the Chinese and the other contender had some flubs and bobbles in their performances, knocking them out of contention. The Koreans moved up to 1st and 2nd. But in Hamm's remaining routines he dug in there and gave it his all. Even on the high-bar he threw in several extra "releases"...showing everybody that he was firmly "in charge".

You who saw it, or kept track in the news, know the outcome. Where he had fallen badly, and was clear down at 12th place, he pulled through and WON GOLD! The Koreans were heart-broken as he nudged them out (to silver and bronze) by a mere score margin of .012.

As he was interviewed, and asked his mental state after he fell, his reply was essentially to NOT QUIT!

Paul says: "Run in such a way that you may obtain it (the prize)"

But...I've failed God so many times! What is said about that?

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so persistently harasses us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us," (Heb12:1)

As Christians we have "become the righeousness of God in [Christ]" (2co5:21) But we sometimes sin, and need to confess and be cleansed. (1Jn1:7-9) ...to have our feet washed. (Jn13:10)

Paul Hamm fell badly, but he was still in the race because he was "qualified" (approved) to be there (2co10:18, 2Ti2:15); and his performances proved it.

In a similar fashion, the Just one, who lives by faith (Hab2:4, Rom1:17), might fall "seven times" but "gets up again".

Hamm got up again and persevered to Gold.

The Christian will stumble and fall (Peter did!), but we do not remain there on our bottoms, but we GET UP and KEEP GOING!

Amen!