I finally found an Olympic athlete I can relate to. No, it’s not America’s swimming ace, Michael Phelps. I don’t even like to be seen in public in my bathing suit. It has a hole in the knee. The balance beam isn’t my thing either. I have a hard enough time turning around twice and finding the ground. But it actually is a gymnast with whom I was able to identify. A little.
Shawn Johnson is one of those personal stories that make the Olympics about people, not just performances. USA Today put her on the front page before the Games began. She went in favored to win the coveted all-around title. The interesting twist is that her coach was an Olympic star for China two decades ago. He moved to America, and now he’s helped bring a little girl to the brink of Olympic stardom.
He’s drilled her in some very complex routines - probably some of the toughest in the world. And Liang Chou, her coach, has directed it all.
Now to the one point where I have something in common with a 16-year-old, 90-pound gymnast. In USA Today, she explained why she’s willing to take such high-level risks. She said of her coach, "If he believes I can do it, if he thinks it’s the best for me, then I have nothing to stop me from believing that. It’s just the best feeling ever to know that you have someone there who respects you so much that you can trust them to that level."
She risks because her coach believes in her. I have a Coach like that. And I can dare to do things that an average guy like me could never dream of because of Him. But so can you. If you play for Coach Jesus.
God says, "I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). He’s made each of us as His "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). He will "equip you with everything good for doing His will" (Hebrews 13:21).
God has had His eye on you since before there was a world. He put you here to make a difference only you can make - because He never made another one like you. But so many people miss what they were born to be because they want to stay where it’s safe. And yet, Jesus is there, calling you to aim higher than what you’ve been settling for. He wants you to go for the gold, not to settle for what’s easy but empty.
Over and over, my Coach has stirred me to move out of where it was comfortable to follow Him in a risky obedience. Which I have learned is actually an oxymoron. There’s no such thing as a risky obedience, only a risky disobedience. When I’ve responded and gone with Him where I’ve never gone before, He has never left me hanging. And I don’t even want to think about what I would have missed if I hadn’t listened to my Coach. It’s true: "The One who calls you is faithful and also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
If Coach Jesus is calling you to do something that’s very hard but ultimately very big, don’t stay where you are. You really can do "all things through Him who gives you strength" (Philippians 4:13). He believes in you because He created you. He knows what’s best for you. You have nothing to stop you from believing that. Because He died for you. He will never do you wrong.