Not all the drama of the Olympics takes place during the Olympics. Some of it unfolds in the weeks and months leading up to the games, like the torch, for example.
In the spirit of the ancient Olympics in Greece, the Olympic torch is carried by runners over thousands of miles until it's finally carried into the opening ceremonies to light the official torch of the Olympic Games. In the case of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, a journey of 15,280 miles, from Los Angeles to Atlanta, represents quite a torch run. Obviously one person doesn't do it all, I mean, not even I am in that good a shape! Now, every Olympic year there are many runners who each carry the torch for a fraction of the journey and then they hand it off to the next runner. In the case of the Atlanta Games, Coca Cola selected 2,500 of the 10,000 torch bearers that were needed. They accepted nominations from anyone that you might know who you thought was "worthy to carry the torch."
Okay, I thought we'd start off with a little magic trick today. I need a little of your imagination. Now, sitting on this table in front of me is this cellophane, okay? Right, okay. Now, next to it is this glove, all right, now here's the trick - my glove is going to pick up the cellophane. I'm lying right down next to the cellophane, okay, "Glove, pick up the cellophane!" Ah, "Glove! Pick up the cellophane!" Ah, nothing is happening. Now it doesn't matter what we do, no matter if we baptize this glove, if we get it confirmed, dedicated, rededicate this glove, it's never going to pick up the cellophane! Oh, but watch this, here we go, oh, actually, listen to this - now the glove is moving and it is moving toward the cellophane. Listen! (Sound of cellophane moving) Ah, you've just got to trust me, it is literally the glove picking up the cellophane. Are you amazed or what? Well, there is one little factor that I forgot to mention - I put my hand in the glove before I picked up the cellophane. It's amazing! All of a sudden that glove could do what, otherwise, gloves could never do!
Now, driving in Mexico is really an adventure. Actually, riding with someone who's driving is an adventure!
I was with our director of Latin American outreach a couple of weeks ago and he was very skillfully and amazingly navigating the challenges of the traffic in his city. It didn't really bother me much, I just took a sedative - no not really - but David's little boy Isaac was in the back seat and at one point our back seat helper reminded Daddy that he was supposed to be getting in the lane for an upcoming tunnel! It took a little doing, but David managed to get over there somehow, at which point Isaac had a word for his father. This little voice said from the back seat, "Good job Daddy!" Well, actually Isaac says that pretty often, he likes what his father does, and he tells him.
Our ministry team was together for a night of fellowship not too long ago and somehow we got to sharing memories about our childhood. Now Gayle, my Administrative Assistant, rewound the tape of her life all the way back to her first day of kindergarten. She survived the school part alright, it was that bus trip home that was the problem. She sat in the back and all the other kids got out at their stops and as the bus driver unknowingly drove right past her stop - in fact her stop was near the beginning of the road! But Gayle said she was so painfully shy then, she just didn't speak up. So finally there was just one little girl left on the bus and the driver looked in the rearview mirror and said, "Ah, little girl - where's your stop?" Well, it's a good thing he asked, she might still be on that bus! This is a time to speak up, not to be silent!
I was in mid-shave one morning recently, all lathered up, attacking my whiskers with my razor and I heard a little "bang" down the street, and suddenly the power went out. Now fortunately I was still able to find my face in the dark - it was approximately where it usually is. But I knew the rest of the morning was going to be very interesting. You see, it wasn't just a circuit breaker, oh no, no, the power was out on the whole block. No toasted bagel today! No hair dryer, no lamp to read my Bible by - why? That grey cylinder that hangs on that telephone pole down the street - we had no power because the transformer had blown!
Now there are some American cities that I just really love, and San Diego, California, has to be one of them. Not too long ago I was there for three days - I look forward to that man. I just love to get around San Diego - well I didn't, like an awful lot of meetings I go to. Of course I never got out of the hotel. I could have been anywhere! They put me in a nice room, and I was hardly ever in the room! Now, it was a great time of ministry, and that's actually what I went for so that was fine. But, I would race into my room between meetings and there was bearly time to use the facilities and change clothes and race on out. But no matter how much of a hurry I was in there was one thing I always checked on - the message light. Some phones in some hotel rooms have this little red message light and when they have a message for you at the desk - someone's called you, or sent a fax, or something - that light's on. That means you've got a message - and it's usually information I need. So no matter how fast I'm running, I always look for the message light.
It used to be that two armies would line up, then they would plunge into combat, and the best army would win. It was simpler then. Today it isn't necessarily the fellas with the best army who win, it's the one with the best air-force. It happened in World War II, it happened in certain Vietnam engagements, and it happened dramatically in the Persian Gulf War, remember? I mean, the air-force went in, they immobilized Iraq's capacity to respond, and then they kind of softened up the opposing forces, and there was an air war before anybody moved on the ground. And then once the troops started to move, the planes provided that vital air cover for their operations. Saddam Hussein had a big army, but he lost because his air cover just didn't function.
It was one of those ministry trips where I had to take my office with me. I had my files and my computer, and I was going to three different cities so I had to be prepared for everything - from cold weather to hot weather. In other words I had a lot of luggage. I've got this one garment bag that ends up stuffed to the gills sometimes. I've actually introduced my bag to airline agents as Big Bertha! Well I was loaded with heavy baggage that day as I was paying my hotel bill. I looked over at the door I was going to be using to leave the hotel and to catch the van to the airport, and there was a problem. There was obviously no handle on that door. I had a heavy load and a door with no apparent way to open it. A problem? Of course not. You know what happened. As I walked toward that door, it opened all by itself, but I did have to walk toward it.
"Wake up kids!" We were in a campground, and it was 3:30 in the morning. I didn't want to wake up the whole campground, but I did want the kids up in the middle of the night. You ask, "What are you doing to your kids?" Well, I had planned a trip up Cadillac Mountain, and it took about an hour to drive to the top of it. I had been told that was the first place you could see the sunrise on the east coast. I wanted to do this, and I thought this would be a great adventure for my wife and kids. Well, they were not quite as enthused as I was, especially when I woke them up. I had thought ahead and had donuts, so as they woke up, I stuffed a donut in each mouth so they wouldn't wake up the campground. Then we started my well-planned adventure up Cadillac Mountain. Finally, we made it to the top, and there, on the eastern horizon, in that chilly, early morning air, we were rewarded with an unforgettable view - of the clouds. I had listened to the weather forecast. They promised me the sun. I had a family insurrection on my hands. We never did see the sun that morning. Well, I had made my plans, and gone to a lot of effort. I got to the top of my mountain, and missed what I thought I would find there.