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Parsonally Speaking: "Eyes on the Prize"

The XXI Winter Olympics are now underway in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Having visited there several times, I can tell you that it is a beautiful city reminiscent of the description of Mount Zion in the Bible: "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people" (Psalm 125:2). In addition, the Burgesses have a personal interest in this year's competition, as my wife is related to snowboarder Louie Vito, who was recently seen on "Dancing with the Stars."

The legendary football coach Vince Lombardi was famously said to have remarked, "Winning is not everything; it is the only thing." Although there is actually more to life than winning, that is essentially the main reason for competing. Athletes in the ancient Olympic games vied for crowns made of wild branches; these were so corruptible that they began to wither the moment they were cut (1 Corinthians 9:25). When it comes to the modern Olympiad, on the other hand, the prize is gold.

To be sure, consolation prizes of silver and bronze await those who place second and third. But in each category, only one victor generally receives the highest honor of the coveted goal medal; all of the other competitors experience, to one degree or another, the agony of defeat. However, the psalmist declared that the Scriptures are to be desired more than gold, even more than much fine gold, and in searching them out is great reward (Psalms 19:7-10, 119:127).

There are very few true champions, and not all champions are praiseworthy (1 Samuel 17:4, 51). The boxing world only officially accepts one reigning champ in each weight class, there is only one sitting president of the United States, and only one best actor and actress are usually recognized by the Academy Awards. Most people never earn top honors on a national or international level; victory does not last forever even for those who do. Eventually, today's winners will be defeated or, at the least, retired.

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