“Super lucky,” Daniel exclaims when the TV camera zooms in on the champion in a close swimming race. He has especially enjoyed all the coverage of “lucky” Michael Phelps. Maybe luck plays a small part in Olympic victories. But mostly, I tell Daniel, the medal winners make their way to the podium because of years of practice and lots of hard work. They win because they are the fastest, the strongest, and have the most perfect performance.
As we watch the Olympics, we celebrate with those who win, especially the surprise champions like Simone Manuel, while our hearts break for those who suffer disappointment like Missy Franklin.
This video from the past of Derek Redmond in the 400 meter final at the 1992 Olympics is powerful. Showing an amazing father who supported his devastated son across the finish line.
The father's acceptance and support reminds me of a page from Daniel's workbook last year:
His teacher wrote at the top: “Daniel completed with support. Hard time focusing. 100%”
That feels like a pretty good summary of many of my days. “Jodie completed with support. Hard time focusing. 100%.” These words might even be said about me when I enter into heaven.
Unlike the Olympics, whether or not we receive the ultimate prize at the end of our lives is not about perfect performance. But about Jesus. The Perfect One who ushers us in. Limping and broken and imperfect as we are.
Today I read about the Levites and Hezekiah who killed the Passover lambs and prayed for the people who were not ceremonially clean at that time. And God accepted them, not because of what they themselves had done but because of what someone else had done for them:
Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves,
the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean
and could not consecrate their lambs to the Lord.
Although most of the many people
who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves,
yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written.
But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying,
“May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God—
the Lord, the God of his fathers—
even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.”
And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
(2 Chronicles 30:18-20)
How much more so, Jesus' once-for-all sacrifice as the Passover Lamb for all who call on His name:
The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being,
sustaining all things by his powerful word.
After he had provided purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven...
In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him.
Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels,
now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death,
so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God,
for whom and through whom everything exists,
should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.
So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers...
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity
so that by his death he might destroy him
who has the power of death—that is, the devil—
and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death...
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way,
in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God,
and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
(Hebrews 1:3, 2:8-11, 14-15, 17)
Maybe, using Daniel's words, we can say that God's Grace,
through Jesus' sacrifice, makes us all “super lucky.”