Wednesday, 05 October 2016 13:20

Helped Up

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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The Olympic Games in Rio are now history, full of memorable moments and tremendous triumphs.  Perhaps one of the most memorable came in a 5,000 meter qualifying event in track and field.  American runner Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealander Nikki Hamblin tripped over one another on the track and both fell to the ground.


D’Agostino, in a statement quoted on the Christian Today website, said:

“There was about 2k to go, I was still feeling controlled, and was mentally preparing to focus and maintain contact with the lead group for the final grind...”


What happened next set off a truly inspirational series of events.  She continued:

“Then in a split second, there was a woman on the ground in front of me, I tripped on her, someone behind me tripped on me, and I was on the ground. Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way. This whole time here he’s made clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance – and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.”


Abbey got back on her feet almost immediately, but rather than continuing the race, she stopped to help Hamblin up. They began to run, but then D’Agostino fell again, apparently in severe pain. Hamblin stopped to help.  Abbey finished 29th and Nikki was 30th, but they were both allowed to pass through to the final, although D’Agostino’s injuries prevented her from competing.


Sports Illustrated reported that both runners were awarded special Olympic medals for their display of sportsmanship.


D’Agostino also commented on the community present within the Games: “Since the night of the opening ceremonies, I have been so touched by this -- people from all corners of globe, embracing their unique cultures, yet all uniting under one celebration of the human body, mind, and spirit. I just keep thinking about how that spirit of unity and peace is stronger than all the global strife we’re bombarded with and saddened by on a daily basis.”


The Cru website says that D’Agostino is involved in Athletes in Action, and about a week before the race, said: “God has taken me on an unparalleled journey,” adding, “I feel like I have learned so much through this spring … there have been a lot of ups and downs. But I would not have been able to learn any of the lessons and I would never have reached such a familiarity and understanding of Christ without the way that it’s happened. It has been a season of waiting and uncertainty as I recover from injuries. That has really exposed to my heart my relationship with running.”


Not only did Abbey perform a selfless act on the track, but she was bold to discuss her motivation and call attention to the work of God in her life.


There are several takeaways from this Olympic moment:


I believe we have to admit that we may have set desired outcomes for our lives, but God has the ultimate control.  Sure, Abbey would have liked to have run victoriously in her event, but there was a greater purpose, and her story has been transformed from being perhaps one of multiple Olympic medalists to being one of the subjects in an amazing Olympic storyline, which includes the element of her faith.  God has the capacity to transform our story so that He might receive greater glory.


The components of service and humility are also key here.  Rather than continue to motor down the track, injured as she was, Abbey D’Agostino stopped to serve - she humbled herself before her fellow runner, who, in turn, helped her down the track.  We might be so intent on living our lives, going through our daily routines, that we miss opportunities to serve - it’s important that we are attentive to the needs around us.  It could be that as our acts of selflessness are seen (not that we serve in order to be seen), as we act in accordance with God’s direction, we may have an open door to testify about the presence of Christ in us.


Finally, I would like to add that Scripture teaches the principle of sowing and reaping.  Abbey took the step to help Nikki up, then Nikki returned the favor.  They sacrificed for one another, but we recognize that in his case, D’Agostino took the first step.  When we reach out to others, I believe that it builds spiritual capital, and that when we are in need, we can depend on the Lord to send someone to help us.  Our selfishness could in fact short-circuit the work that God wants to do somewhere down the road.

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 13:27
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