What part does sport play in your life? Do you enjoy playing? Do you prefer watching? Do you get an allergic reaction when the idea of sport is mentioned?
As we approach Advent sport is the final area that we will be looking at in our series of how different topics link with faith.
You may think it’s difficult to link these two but actually it’s possibly easier than many other subject areas, and is possibly one that I’ve seen people link more than other areas. It is also something that we can learn a lot from even if we don’t find sport that enticing ourselves.
Sport is something that helps you, as a participant, to start thinking about yourself holistically. Although you could just play a game in the playground, if you really want to improve at a sport you have to practice, you have to think about what you’re eating, you have to think about how much rest you are getting, you have to think about what other exercise you are getting. Our thought for the week comes from Jillian Michaels and it says
“It’s not about perfect. Its about effort. And when you bring that effort, every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs”
Although this quote is about sport, it could easily be applied to anything that we try to get better at in our lives. We shouldn’t be trying to be perfect but we will only change if we put in the effort everyday. Sport, music, art, craft, friendships, and even our relationship with God.
However, we also need to be careful, what is it that is the most important in our life? We can allow these things to become our priority and suddenly they take over our lives. It is important, not just with sport, but that we regularly take stock of our priorities in life and ensure that there is a balance of all aspects. An extreme example here could be Eric Liddell who was a 100m sprinter and a devout Christian. At the Paris olympics in 1924 the 100m heats were on a Sunday and he refused to run as he considered that the sabbath and a day of rest. Therefore he ran in the 400m instead and won. Extreme, yes, but Eric was clear where his priorities were.
So… we have learnt that sport can teach us about a holistic lifestyle and the importance of putting in effort regularly to build up anything that we do. But what else can we learn?
I am always fascinated when I hear interviews from sports people who have a faith, and when giving their thanks to different people they give thanks to God. There is a recognition that they have achieved what they have achieved because of God. This may be because of a belief that they were created by God who gave them the skills and ability to achieve. It may also be linked to this verse from Isaiah which says
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Tiredness and exhaustion comes a lot in sport, whether practice or participation. This verse reminds us all that not only does our body and skill come from the Lord, but also our strength. Things may go wrong and this could be disastrous if you are relying upon your own strength, but if you acknowledge that you have strength in the Lord then you are reminded that you are not your own. Is this not the same in every aspect of life?
Challenge: are there things in your life that you want to develop and that you need to put more daily effort in? Do you try to do everything in your own power or do you allow yourself to lean on others, and on God? How can you do this more?
Prayer: Father God thank you that you have given us so many sports to enjoy participating in and watching. Thank you for those examples of people who through their sports are a witness to you. Help us to learn from sport about putting effort into things, and drawing on your strength. Amen