Faster. The coach’s words screamed through Jason’s head. Faster on each turn. Seventy laps. No rest.
He and the five other speed skaters looked like a long train as they raced around the 400-meter ice rink. Jason was tailing the lead skater for now, but on the next turn, the leader would pull off and drop to the rear of the pack. Then it would be Jason’s turn to pace as hard as he could with the other guys following him.
Every muscle was surging with pain, and his heart was pounding so hard it hurt to breathe. How’d I ever get nicknamed Flash?
“GO! GO! GO!” barked the coach as Jason took the lead.
Jason ignored the stinging razors that tore through his quads and focused on his goal—competing in the Winter Olympics.
Building endurance and pushing his body to its limit six to eight hours a day, six days a week, was the only way to get there.
“But if I didn’t believe it was God’s will for my life,” he told other racers, “I wouldn’t spend another second on the ice.”
Was it God’s will for Jason to make the US Olympic team?
I asked myself that question when I first heard his story. (Jason is from my hometown, Colorado Springs, but he trained in Milwaukee.)
Jason is committed to his sport, and he’s a talented speed skater, so it’s hard to imagine him not making the team. But still, the competition is tough. A lot of guys try out for a limited number of spaces, so the thought crossed my mind, What if it just doesn’t work out? How will he handle the rejection? I mean, I didn’t make my high school basketball team—even after playing the sport my entire young life. That really hurt. But an Olympic dream? How do you get over that?
I soon got my answer, and it made my heart skip a beat. “No,” he told my dad, “I didn’t make the team.”
The next words out of his mouth blew my mind: “Speed skating in the Olympics has always been my dream, but now I can look forward to whatever else God has planned for me. I know that everything that happens to me has a purpose. God’s purpose. And His purpose is always best.”
Athletes like Jason have anchored their lives to the right goal—seeking God’s will, not just their own dreams. They set goals, plan ahead, train, and set off in one direction, knowing that God may take them down a completely different track. And not only do they discipline their bodies for competition, but they train their spiritual lives too—reading the Bible, praying, and seeking God’s guidance. That’s why they’re not devastated when hard times hit or if they don’t get what they’d hoped for. They know that God is for them, and His ways are best.