Spring 2021 Magazine

Devotionals from Fall 2015 print issue (Week 12)

SERIES: RUNNING, LESSONS FROM TRACK AND FIELD

Monday: “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11 (ESV)

In Control

In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, unknown American Billy Mills qualified for the 10,000-meter final and faced local favorite Kokichi Tsuburaya, world record holder Ron Clarke of Australia and a host of other runners who had personal best performances that were better than Mills had ever run.

But races aren’t won on paper and they’re not determined by comparing who has the best time coming into the race, they’re determined by who gets to the line first.

Mills won the Olympic final, the first and only American to ever win the 10,000 meters, and he won it in an Olympic record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds, nearly 50 seconds faster than his previous best and less than 10 seconds off Clarke’s world record.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon understands that God is ultimately the one who is in control and He is the one who determines what He will allow and what He won’t allow.

I’m not making a case for God determining the outcome of a sporting event, although it’s very well within God’s power and right to do so, but in the grand scheme of life, since God gives us talents and gives us everything, He can do whatever He wants through us despite our gifts.

That should be comforting to you as you seek to please God and use your talents each day.

By Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum


 

Tuesday: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” I Corinthians 9:24 (ESV)

Run to Win

If you ever saw the late American running legend Steve Prefontaine run, or if you’ve ever seen a video of him running, you understand that he always gave it everything he had.

It was evident in his racing, and it was evident in the way he talked about racing. He once said, “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.” And another time he said, “Something inside of me just said, ‘Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him,’ and I just took off.”

Prefontaine ran as if only one person was going to win. Even though he didn’t win every race he competed in, he ran to win. His efforts helped him set seven American records, from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters.

Do you have the fire in your faith like Prefontaine had for running? Do you run the race as if you want to win, or are you cruising just to finish?

Give everything you have each day and run with the determination of obtaining the prize.

By Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum


 

Wednesday: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:21 (ESV)

Everything for Him

Orville Peterson never made a U.S. Olympic team despite being ranked as one of the best decathletes in the U.S. during several Olympic track and field trials.

In 1984, he injured himself so bad that he finished 32nd of 35 decathletes despite coming in ranked third in the U.S.

In 1988, he finished six points from third place, 48 points from second and 53 from first, essentially inches from making an Olympic team or even winning the U.S. title.

Despite his struggles, though, he was inducted into the Florida Track and Field Hall of Fame 25 years after his last Olympic trials, in 2013.

“It teaches you to give everything your best because you never know where it will lead,” he told Treasure Coast Newspapers in 2013. “I had no idea I would ever be going into a Hall of Fame. I just loved sports and I loved running and jumping, so this honor, all glory be to God. Praise Him for looking down on me.”

Despite his difficulties, Peterson was able to praise God. Sure, he earned the respect of people who honored him, but he could have been bitter about the lost chances. Instead, he took the opportunity to think about the good despite the bad. Can we do the same?

By Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum


 

 

Thursday: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 (ESV)

Press on, Despite Difficulties

Pressing on despite difficulties was exemplified in no better way than at the 1984 U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Los Angeles.

Orville Peterson, a 23-year-old decathlete who came into the 1984 U.S. Olympic track and field trials with the third-best performance, was looked at as a favorite to make the Olympic team (the top three made the squad). The decathlon, a two-day, 10-event competition, is arguably the most grueling in track.

On the second day of competition, though, Peterson injured his hamstring in the 110-meter hurdles, the first of five events that day. From there he struggled in every event, hobbling badly in the last event, the 1,500 meters.

Peterson’s effort was so moving that Associated Press writer Norm Clarke led off his coverage by writing about Peterson’s struggles: “After working with handicapped kids ‘that have to hop to run 50 meters,’ decathlete Orville Peterson said the least he could do was finish what he started. ‘I didn’t want to be known as a dropout,’ said Peterson, who lost a bid to make the U.S. Olympic team Friday night but won a standing ovation for running his 1,500-meter finale despite a painful leg injury.”

It took nearly 10 minutes to finish the 1,500 meters, a time so slow he earned zero points for the event. And for the decathlon as a whole, he finished 32nd of 35 competitors, far from his third-place ranking.

But he continued to press, even when he knew he had no chance of making the team.
Do you continue on in your faith when things get difficult, or do you give in to sin and cave to pressure? Begin anew today and press on despite difficulties.

By Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum


 

Friday: “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” II Timothy 2:5 (ESV)

Cheating to Win

During the 1980 Boston Marathon, Rosie Ruiz crossed the finish line before any female competitor and was awarded the winning prize.

The only problem was that she only ran the last half mile of the race.

After the cheating was discovered, Ruiz was stripped of her title and Jacqueline Gareau was declared the winner, while Patti Lyons was declared runner-up.

Although Ruiz was crowned, her crown was taken away because she didn’t compete “according to the rules” as II Timothy 2:5 says.

Are you competing to win and doing so according to the rules? Or are you cutting corners, or nearly the entire course, to earn something that isn’t yours?

Live your life how God instructed you, and earn the crown of life He has for you.

By Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum


 

Weekender: “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6:19 (KJV)

Going Long

Reflect on the fact that the apostle Paul asked to be able to speak boldly. From a man who seemed as if he didn’t lack boldness, it’s interesting that he asked for it. That’s likely why he exhibited it so much. If we ask for something like this to proclaim Christ to others, God will answer that request.