George Bowers Sr. Who’s grinding your skates?
With the opening ceremonies of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games, the world turns its eyes and its televisions to South Korea. For the next two weeks, we will watch as athletes display their amazing skills honed by discipline, practice, and perseverance to compete for coveted gold, silver, and bronze. Beyond the medal counts and national anthems, however, the privilege of just contending on this world stage is a huge achievement in and of itself.
The favorite events for many spectators are the figure skating competitions. To see the men and women perform incredible athletic maneuvers with such measured grace and beauty is not only entertaining, but inspiring as well. It is much more than just sheer muscular superiority; there must be timing and intentionality as each move is precisely choreographed to music. We all hold our collective breath as the skaters leap into their air twirling with planned power and controlled strength.
While we applaud those on the ice for their routines, may we remember the many who contributed to their successes. Initially we are obviously aware of the coaches who rigorously trained these youngsters as well as their parents who have often sacrificed much so that their children can chase Olympic dreams. Television interviews help us appreciate these key individuals who are instrumental to the athletes’ triumphs.
But what about the many others whom we don’t see? How about the woman who made and sharpened the steel blades or the man who groomed the ice? How about the composer who wrote the score and the musicians who played it flawlessly for them to skate by? How about the designer who fashioned the costumes and the chefs who prepared their breakfasts? Who drove the shuttles that picked them up at the Olympic Village and dropped them off at the ice rink, and who are the mechanics who maintained those vehicles?
Going a layer deeper, how about the miners who dug the minerals from which the skates are forged or the farmers who raised the animals whose hides hold these gifted feet? How about those who grew the fiber from which the fabrics are made and what are the names of the custodians who cleaned their restrooms and polished the glass through which they watch the judges deliberate? Who set the temperature in the building and adjusted the lighting? How many people aim the cameras, edit the tape, and regulate the sound so that these spectacular performances can be enjoyed the world over? Many of these individuals are just as gifted as those on the ice but in less visible and less celebrated vocations.
Of course those persons and companies that donate to the US Olympic Committee also help to make it all possible as do our brave men and women who faithfully guard our borders so that the contestants can practice in safety and so that we can all live in peace. And only in heaven will we learn of those who prayed for their safety and success as well as our own.
As we contemplate the nearly infinite number of people whose work facilitates the Olympic Games, we are reminded of all those who have contributed and who continue to contribute to our own successes. Whenever we are tempted to make much of our own accomplishments, let us remember that no person is an island, or as Romans 14:7 says, “No man lives to himself alone and no man dies to himself alone.”
Ultimately, the Olympians and those who support them all receive their life, breath, and sustenance from yet another whose intimate involvement and pervasive provision is routinely overlooked, dismissed, or taken for granted. God himself has created these muscles and brains as well as the gifted people who use them. He has provided the air, soil, sunlight, and water that grew the raw materials and he fashioned the earth’s natural resources that yield rich minerals. Too often we forget God’s constant provision and neglect to give him the glory he deserves for without him, our very existence, much less any Olympic activity, would be impossible.
As we enjoy the performances of the best athletes in the world, let us be mindful of all who empowered them to be such. And let’s likewise remember those who have helped us, especially the giver of every good and perfect gift. Olympic blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored nine books in addition to contributing to Let The Earth Rejoice, 365 Devotions Celebrating God’s Creation by Worthy Inspired. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.