Olympic Effort

The London 2012 Olympics are in full swing, and in our evenings hubby and I often watch some of the athletes compete for their gold, silver and bronze medals. Along the way we learn of what it has taken for them to even come to the moment when they can compete for the prize. It begins with an athlete making a decision that will consume four years of their lives, during which their only focus can be on conditioning and training themselves to excel in their sport. It is a decision that affects their whole family, and the cost is always great. Once the decision is made, every priority of life is ordered around the goal to win that prize. They spend enormous sums of time and money in training and arrange everything about their daily lives in a way that serves the goal of winning that prize, to be the greatest athlete in the world. It takes tremendous dedication in the face of many obstacles, not the least of which are discouragement, weariness, and temptations to indulge in things that derail or defeat the athlete’s goal.

Whether you approve or disapprove of the idea of one investing everything in a goal that is ultimately for personal glory, it is hard not to admire the dedication, sacrifice, self-discipline and sheer hard work of such a person.

Oh, that God’s people would make such olympic efforts to love Him with all their might!

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Mark 12:30

“Sometimes I wonder if marriage is overrated.”

When the talk show host said this to me on live TV last week, I saw real anxiety in her eyes. It was the day after Valentines, when love was still “on the air,” and she and her co-host — both single — had asked me to weigh in on the fact that divorce statistics for Christian marriage are as bad as those for secular society. This sad fact underscores the reality that being a Christian is no guarantee that a person can effectively give or receive enduring love.

I appreciated my host’s honesty, and I knew she was voicing the ponder of many single Christians. Here’s my take, after nearly 30 years: marriage is wonderful, even when it is not delightful, and I believe the only thing overrated about it is the concept of “good chemistry.” Authentic life-giving love is a learned behavior, not a lab experiment. And unless we are deliberately relating to the greatest lover of all — The Lord, the Holy Spirit — we may well remain as bad at loving as the godless souls around us. In fact, insofar as we pull out the “rules” and judgments that too typically attend a Christian outlook, we may be WORSE lovers!

What I saw in that TV host’s eyes mirrored what once lived in my heart: a fear of getting into a permanent relationship that would turn out to be painful or profoundly disappointing. Anyone familiar with our story knows that my husband-to-be actually wrote me a “guarantee” that our marriage would work — a guarantee that neither one of us could enforce. But when our marriage failed, we learned that the only true Guarantor of a satisfying love relationship is the Lord himself, the original no-holds-barred, I’ll-give-everything-for-you lover. Anyone who thinks God and romance are polar opposites doesn’t know Him yet.

Valentine BearIn answer to the host’s’ question that day about how one can ensure they will have a relationship of enduring romance, I simply said, “Be a great lover.”

The best way to guarantee you will find and enjoy a great love in life is to determine that YOU will be a good lover — for when even one party in a relationship deliberately works at that goal, love will always be in the air. It is highly contagious. Being a good lover is the best way to guarantee that you will be well loved.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that you can’t do it. The good news is that God can. So raise your right hand, put your left hand on your Bible and swear, “I will be a great lover…..so help me God.”