True mother-love never fails to point her child to the Author of love. Susan L. Lenzkes

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Frankly Phyllis

Olympic Size Your Summer!

All eyes are on the athletic superstars in Beijing this summer. We marvel at Dara Torres, the 41-year-old mom who made this year's U.S. Olympic team, chalking up better times in the 100-meter freestyle than she did for her 2000 Olympic gold medal-the same race she won before her child was born two years ago. We wonder if the new Speedo LZR RACER® will really turn out to be the "world's fastest swimsuit." We'll find out if shutting down 40 factories near Beijing improves air quality for the athletes who will be gasping for it. We'll hear about performance-enhancing drugs. We'll soon learn whether or not Michael Phelps (who called Dara Torres "mom" when they both swam in 1988) can top Spitz. We'll hope and pray for smooth sailing in more than just the aquatic events. The Olympic athletes' intense focus, obsession with greatness, and their drive toward perfection will no doubt amaze, delight and inspire us.

Think about your own life for a minute. What will happen to your summer sizzle when you turn off the Olympic Games? When the winners take home their medals, will you have enthusiasm left for your own events?

Just because the world isn't watching, doesn't mean we don't face Olympic-sized events in our own lives. Life hand delivers those, without our even trying out for them. What's your Olympic event this summer? Could it be a career challenge, finances, or a back-yard project? Might it be a difficult stage your child is going through, the need to take better care of yourself, or the next party at your place? Have you trained for it? Will it go better than last time?

I'll certainly be among those cheering for the athletes who have sacrificed so much to achieve their lifelong dreams. And after the games, I'm sure I'll think about how much better I'd do with my potential if I didn't procrastinate, took more of a risk, and went all out-instead of hesitantly-into my next challenge. Getting an adrenalin rush while watching the events of strangers is fun. Now how do I get some of that enthusiasm for my own race in life?

Whether it's setting a world record or something more ordinary, the real questions are these: What are you racing for? What's the prize? Then, there are the questions about the contest you've entered: Are you in the event you were made for? Are you chasing the right things? Does it matter more if you come in first, or if it's the right event?

When facing big life questions like these, my Christian perspective is what helps me. I truly believe God made me for certain events and not for others. I've tried plenty of the others and have figured out what things I do well. My faith in Christ keeps me going. I can always find someone who is better in my event. I seldom come in first in my races. Sometimes I even fall out of the race. But the prize, in the case of eternal life, is not to the swift, but to those who finish. I can do that because it is Christ who strengthens me. I don't have to run the perfect race. And, what a relief that is.

All of this reminds me of a favorite story about Charlton Heston, who won an Oscar for his leading role in the 1959 film Ben-Hur. Mr. Heston trained hard for the film's chariot race. This was no small feat since the only way to balance was to hold on to the reins of the horses as they pulled. At last, he approached William Wyler, the film's director, saying something like, "I can drive the chariot, sir, but I don't know if I can win the race!" To this Wyler replied, "You just drive. I'll make sure you win!"

And so it is in life. We run the race. We hold onto the reins of strength and direction God gives through faith, other people, and circumstances. We don't always recognize that we can win, but God makes sure we do win. Faith in Christ lightens up the Olympic-size events in our lives. It's not our efforts-whether strong or feeble-that put us across the finish line. Christ Himself has won the race for us.

In closing, I'd like to share with you God's encouragement through the apostle Paul, who talks about running the race of life in his letter to Timothy in the Bible. Paul ran his race well, hurdling persecution and inner torment, and occasionally enjoying great acclaim. He shares lessons, like learning to be content with much or little. He comes to the end of his life and compares it to a race. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Read about my '08 Summer Olympic Event in "A Bubble Off".

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