The Journey to Atlanta

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

Tomorrow, at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, the journey from all parts of the world to Atlanta will be complete. The time has finally arrived for this long-awaited event. All the preparations that have been made now stand as a strong foundation to be trusted.

Like the host city, each athlete has taken a journey of extensive preparation. Now trust and assurance in this training will help all to perform with natural ability. Spectators, who are essential to the fulfillment of the events, can benefit by adopting the same kind of thinking that supports the performers -- trusting that the foundation has been prepared.

For this trust to be dependable, it should be grounded in more than just human endeavor. God is the source of trust. He is the giver of ability. God is the governing power throughout these Games. No one possesses, of himself or herself, the ability to excel in any activity; the grace, skill, and coordination that an athlete demonstrates (and that a spectator appreciates) all come from God. Beginning with interest in a sport, and continuing with the desire to perform and the goal of achieving excellence, God is the true influence.

Today's measurement of excellence finds the highest of standards in the life of Christ Jesus two thousand years ago. God endowed Jesus to represent Him and reveal His nature. Jesus also had a period of preparation prior to the beginning of his ministry. Then he was ready to fulfill his mission. His life conveyed God's excellent love. His actions justified his trust in God and in his ability to carry out his work as the Son of God.

Jesus taught that we are, by reflection of God, spiritual, His offspring. We derive our being from God and reflect God's own power. While we may not feel Olympic goals carry enough importance to compare with Jesus' holy mission, his example points a pathway in any worthwhile endeavor.

Perceiving spiritual truth, anyone can gain more trust in athletic ability. Freedom in performance and greater endurance are then possible -- beyond what is expected without this perception. Tension, fear, and preoccupation with competitors find no place when the joy of performing inspires an athlete. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "The feats of the gymnast prove that latent mental fears are subdued by him" (p. 199). Fears can be destroyed because they don't come from God. The passage continues, "The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible."

Furthermore, God will be present to guide the athletes at these Olympics as much as He has always been present to guide the performers as they have gone about their efforts and training, plans and preparations. Referring to God as Mind, Science and Health says, "The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness" (p. 151). Awareness of this can help alleviate concerns about the effects of Atlanta's hot summer weather; God maintains what He creates, independent of humidity.

The Apostle Paul conveyed several spiritual lessons through reference to sports that were popular in Bible times, especially boxing and racing. He cited the training for sports performances as a means of illustrating broader Christian demands and inspiring the early Christian follower. For example, he said to the Corinthians, "Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have" (II Corinthians 8:11).

While medals designate top performers, the excellence of participation and of giving one's best carries its own rewards. Individual Olympic competition is a journey, made with amazing energy and determination, in the conquering of limitation and the overcoming of obstacles. Relative to no one else, and only to one's unity with God, individual expression of God is always victorious.

Through honor to God, we can see the Olympic competitions as more than human activities. The Games themselves are a forum for improved brotherhood and sisterhood for the entire world. And everyone can return home fulfilled, having achieved individual excellency in collective participation.

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