Aug 9, 2012

Fail … big-time fail.

That’s what my local paper put as a headline for sports writer Bill Plaschke’s article on Michael Phelps. The local paper used the word “dismal” to describe Phelps’ fourth place finish. Fourth place “In the world”! He was competing in the Olympics! That is “dismal” and “failure”; really? 

The irony is that prior to the race, no one in the history of the Olympics has won more gold medals than Michael Phelps. Prior to the race, he had already won fourteen gold medals; thirteen of which he won in thirteen consecutive events! Four years ago he went eight for eight. And, if that weren’t enough to consider him a huge success story, prior to the race his 16 overall medals were two short of the Olympic record.

Three days later, Phelps won medals in two races and became the most decorated Olympian EVER by surpassing the former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina as the person with the most Olympic medals.

One week after the article was written, in the final race of his Olympic career, Phelps collected his eighteenth Olympic gold medal. His total for these Olympic Games was four golds and two silvers; which was more medals than any other swimmer; bringing the grand total of all of his Olympic metals to twenty two!

Immediately following the podium ceremony, Michael was honored with a special individual ceremony at which FINA president Julio Maglione presented Phelps with a silver trophy to recognize his achievements.

Not bad for a guy who one week earlier was considered to be a “dismal failure”. I wonder what the newspaper people thought one week later…

In light of this, what does it take to be successful? Do we have to win EVERYTHING that we enter? Does that mean we will win every contest, every drawing, every job application, and every test that we enter? Otherwise what will the next Michael Phelps have to do to be able to lose a race and still be considered great?

I think that we should applaud the fact that so many people give it their best and still don’t win. By showing up, they still did better than all of the “couch-potatoes” who are watching the events and complaining. Fans boo when a judge on “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent” gives them a less than stellar remark.

Don’t get me wrong: I LIKE TO WIN! I have to guard my emotions when my team loses. This includes teams that I am cheering for as well as teams I am playing on. And I am NOT one of those people who believe that EVERYONE should get a “participation trophy”.

But something is wrong with setting up standards that define success as ‘everyone MUST win EVERYTHING they enter’; something we know is impossible! Can anyone (including Michael Phelps) really live up to that kind of standard? Can you imagine working each day under that kind of scrutiny? Most of us would be fired; or at least forced to quit as we failed to “bring home the gold” on every task given to us by our boss and our name is dragged through the media.

Even worse than that, it seems as though God’s job-security is sometimes determined by how well He comes through when we call out to Him. Does that mean God only keeps His job (as God) by answering ALL of our prayers immediately when we pray them and gives us exactly whatever we ask of Him? Does God need to “bring home the gold” on every task that we give to Him to do for us?

Could it be that maybe the world doesn’t run by our standards? Could it be that (perhaps) we are not in control of all that we see and we don’t have the final story? In other words you may be judging what God is doing “one-week” early as you journal to your world how things turn out when you prayed..

Psalm 115:3 says that; “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases”.

Psalm 135:5-6 “For I know that the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places.”

Some things we just need to leave in God’s hands and trust that He will come through for us; even if it is one week later. After all, it was on the third day that He rose from the dead; and that turned out pretty great for those who will believe!

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”     (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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