Some Thursdays will provide a Because of Grace Wholehearted Living Story,
February 2, 2012
My hunger for resolution and relief has led me periously close to an unhealthy focus on self. I am circling a place between giving up and seeing how much more I can take. Then a story of resilence and courage lands in my lap.
Al Oerter was a track and field athlete who won the gold medal for discus throwing in the 1956/1960/1964 Olympics.
A week before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Al tore the cartilage off the right side of his rib cage in a field practice accident. He had trouble with a cervical disc and had to wear a neck collar to keep it from hurting. Somehow he managed to qualify for the finals, but had so much pain that his doctor advised him to drop out.
“Don’t make a fool of yourself,” an inner voice whispered, “You’ve got an excuse. Withdraw!”
But Al Oerter suited up for the competition. He felt he had to try, in spite of the pain. When it came time for Al to throw the discus, he stepped into the ring and prayed, “God, give me strength.” His first toss was not particularly good, but it was good enough to get him into the last string of finalists. He three more chances. His next throw was a failure, and the pain in his side and neck intensified.
But Al trusted God to provide the strength he didn’t have. He stepped back into the ring and threw the discus one more time. It sailed over 200 fete down the field for a new world record-and Al’s third gold medal. Looking back on that day, Al said, “…the important thing for all of us to remember is that wherever we want to go in life, we won’t get there unless we bend all out efforts—mental, physical, and spiritual—toward that end.”
Sometimes giving up is a lot like Fast Food and Al Oerter. It is an easy choice, it is fast, some folks who are dear to us will suggest it for our ease and comfort. And often, almost always at least for a time, our pain, our hunger for relief will go away. Our intense pain will depart for a moment.
But Al Oerter’s story* reminds me that descpite great pain, if I hang on, remember the promises of God’s refuge and care, there will be a victory. And victory is a meal worth waiting for.
Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you. ~God, Genesis 28:15
Quotes to Help You Regain Confidence When You Feel Defeated (thank you, Garrett for this link!)
*The retelling of Al Oerter’s story is adapted from The Names of God by Lester Sumrall
Filed under: Because of Grace, Wholehearted Living Stories | Tagged: Al Oerter, defeated, discus, Genesis 28:15, giving up | 1 Comment »