I am writing this meditation on the last Saturday of July 2021, which marks the start of the athletic events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. My mind, therefore, has turned to the imagery from athletics used in the Bible to teach us lessons about the Christian life. We will consider three examples in our meditations this week.
Example one: ‘I returned and saw under the sun that – THE RACE IS NOT TO THE SWIFT’, Ecclesiastes chapter 9 verse 11.
Many competitors have discovered the truth of these words during past days. They were expected to achieve success in an event but unexpectedly suffered a mental or physical breakdown that robbed them of the success they, and their supporters, thought was a certainty.
We must remember that God is sovereign and in control of our destinies, not the other way round. Understanding, and accepting, this is one of the keys to unlock the door of living a fruitful Christian life. It may, of course, be true that the swiftest athletes will win most of the races in the next couple of weeks of the Olympics; however, it will not always be true. We live in a fallen world that has turned its back on God; therefore, life can be unpredictable! Natural ability in speed or strength does not guarantee success!
A Bible incident highlights this truth. We learn in 2 Samuel chapter 2 verses 18-23 that a man called Asahel was ‘as fleet of foot as a wild gazelle’. His enemy, Abner, could not match him for speed, when he sought to escape from him; nevertheless, on this particular occasion it was proved that the race is not always to the swift. Asahel might have had the natural ability to overcome in the conflict but Abner had the weapon and, with it, he ‘struck him in the stomach with the blunt end of the spear . . . and he fell down there and died on the spot’, verse 23.