Links Daily Devotional

The Race that Wins

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25, NIV)

As I settle in to share my thoughts today, I am holding a feeling of awe and gratitude for the time I recently spent in Sochi, Russia, with International Sports Chaplains (ischaplains.org) at the Winter Olympics. We were there to share the Gospel through pin trading, or badges as some like to call them. Pin trading is a popular activity at the Games and it has become a unique way to share about Jesus with what has come to be known as the Jesus Pin.

The Jesus Pin gets a fresh design each Olympic year, but always incorporates flags from around the world, the name of the host country and year, as well as five colors to help tell God’s story: black for sin and darkness, red for the shed blood of Jesus Christ, white for the forgiveness of sins, green for spiritual growth, and gold for eternal life.

Decked out in our black cowboy hats and logoed jackets, we sparked much curiosity and enthusiasm from spectators, media, and athletes alike. We were approached for photos, interviews, and conversations that opened the door for us to share how much Jesus loves them by using our pin as a free gift.

Today’s Scripture resonates within me as I reflect on the days walking around Olympic Park and the few events I was able to attend. Every athlete participating came with dreams to win a medal, with gold being the ultimate goal. Some achieved this, but most felt the burn of disappointment. As a professional golfer, I intimately know and understand the effort, sweat, pain, and often tears that every athlete experiences under extreme expectations to perform and win. The hard reality is that at the end of the day, the prize sought is merely a perishable one: a trophy, medal, or money.

Often I have run my race focused on a perishable prize, both on the golf course and in life. It has left me disappointed, empty, and feeling defeated. I traveled to the Olympics to offer seeds for something different—hope of an imperishable reward, the free gift of God’s love through Jesus Christ. I have learned that when I run the race focused on Jesus, he will keep me stable and grounded regardless of the challenges I face this side of heaven.

I have a confession. Sharing God’s story with people I don’t know and who barely understand English is not easy. It’s way out of my comfort zone. Thankfully, God showed up all day and every day regardless of my insecurity, attitude, or effort. Running the race during my time at the Winter Olympics looked different each day. Many times it involved sharing the Gospel very specifically, using each color on the Jesus Pin. At other moments being in a photo and sharing a smile was all God had planned. It also included a 45-minute conversation with a lovely family while standing in a long line. My race in Sochi finished by offering kindness and a helping hand to an Olympic athlete traveling alone through the Moscow airport.

Running our race in such a way as to obtain the imperishable prize looks different for each one of us. How would you like to run your race today?

Tracy Hanson
March 4, 2014
Copyright 2014 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.