A nationwide contest for a weight lifting championship was scheduled for a week in the dead of winter when many sports were in a lull.
Because of this, interest in the competition surpassed similar events, with large crowds and enthusiasts flocking to the arena as part of tradition or the desire to see men and women compete with just their physical endurance and strength.
The reigning champion from the prior year has suffered a minor injury and was rumors began that he may not compete at all. His coaches and friends denied these rumors with such vehemence, that controversy and speculation began to discuss what was ‘really going on’. A flurry of media attention and gossip grew over the week preceding the competition.
On the weekend before the event, the man considered the main competitor to the defending champion was informed of some terrible news. Due to the increased media attention, the situation was reported before it could be corroborated or approved by anyone. The man’s year-old twin girls had been diagnosed with a contagious infection that put them both on life support. To make matters worse, the infection had impacted his son and he was soon hospitalized as well. Following this, both parents were screened and his wife was also diagnosed with a mild case of the same infection.
The media attention was overwhelming as the story continued to develop. Fans and well-wishers watched for updates on the unfortunate story. Discussions about the man favored to win began immediately. Speculation arose on whether he would become infected, allowed to compete, and if he would actually compete – even if he was physically capable. Forced to face the mounting questions, the couple released a statement. As long as he was healthy and allowed to compete, the man would continue in the competition, unless there was a change in the condition of their children.
The interest in the event and its participants had moved from intrigue and rumor to a sad, human-interest story. Many individuals unfamiliar with the sport tuned in to watch the man with dangerously sick babies set his first weight. Many expected that he would show a little emotion, and waited for the first look at the athlete now made famous by his situation. The man entered and walked forward resolutely. He completed his lifts efficiently and barely a pause. The audience watched him in hushed silence, respecting his focus. Even as the announcer read the lift results, the audience was mostly quiet. The athlete waved to the cameras and blew a kiss to his wife, then turned to return to his seat. Finally the audience responded with resounding applause without a scream or whistle. The lift was respectable, and an interesting week of competition began.
As the week wore on, the news on one of the baby girls became more serious. A failure of a lung seemed imminent, while opinions held that treatment was still possible. All the news reports asked the same question with the same answer, nobody knew if the man would compete the next day. Finally, the family broke the silence by releasing a statement. Although the competition was important, the man would not continue at this time. With nothing more to report other than the occasional medical opinion or the emotions of the day; the reports on the competition resumed.
At the week’s end, the defending champion was named as the victor. He had beaten his previous personal best, and shown that the rumors on his injury were wrong…or that he had overcome it. His competitor, the man whose situation had captured the world’s attention, had never even attempted that weight. After receiving his trophy and giving thanks to his supporters, the champion asked for a moment of silence on his competitor and family’s behalf. Many nodded that this was a fitting end to the event.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on the face of masculine resolution, of a man I would admire.
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
In Matthew 3:13, the author has portrayed the royal messenger who comes declaring a new king is coming and now describes the actual entrance of the king into the story. Up until now He is the focus, but somehow almost intangible. I say this because both Messiah and king are titles. We are given some of the circumstances behind the royal visitors and the sudden departure to Egypt, but it is not given with emotion or personality. The only person we get any detail on is the messenger, John. This is the moment the story has been building to, the king’s arrival.
The words seem to indicate to me that Jesus walked swiftly, with purpose. We are not told He was one of the crowds; yet there were crowds for certain. He comes directly from Galilee, the place the author left off with His parents ‘settling’ for the region of Galilee, perhaps a little unhappily. Jesus enters the throngs of people unnoticed and comes to John, intending to be baptized by him. He isn’t there to listen to preaching, to confess sins, or to be worshiped. He is there to be baptized, and in so doing to say that this preaching is the truth; it is righteous to say a change of heart and repentance are necessary for the kingdom of heaven to be personal.
Sometimes I have pictured Jesus as almost wimpy. I admit it; he was so kind and so accepting of the people that a part of me believed he was strong only when he needed to be. Yet, here in our first glimpse of the king, I see my own prejudice. Does he saunter in and watch? No, in fact he is quite deliberate and determined. He is not in a hurry, but as if going to an appointment I see a strong king enter, sure of his path and ready. This New Year is upon me, and I am determined to take a new approach to how I view my Lord in light of this realization. If He is king, the ‘little’ sins I excuse away are still deeply disappointing. If He is king, my outlook should be confident and joyful, for my king has already won. He is loving and gentle, yes…but powerful as a lion to tear apart any adversary outside His will too, so why continue to worry? This New Year is looking better already to me!