The 2012 Olympics are over, and what an Olympics they were for the United States’ women gymnasts. Their team won the gold medal for only the second time in Olympic history, and many other medals along the way. Many of the women on that team excelled at their sport during the Olympic events, but the Olympic champion who sticks out the most in my mind is Gabby Douglas, the all-around gymnastics gold medalist.
All the women who competed worked incredibly hard to earn their chance for Olympic gold. Yet Gabby Douglas stands out for more than just her amazing talent. Gabby decided to thank God for the opportunities she has been given and the talent she has worked so hard to perfect.
What can we learn from Gabby's example? Are we thankful for the opportunities we have been given as women, both young and old? Are we working hard and overcoming so we can win a crown of gold at Christ's return? As impressive as Gabby's example is, her reward is purely physical. How much more thankful we should be, and how much harder we should work, knowing our goal is eternal life!
Throughout the Bible, physical examples are often used to teach us spiritual lessons. The Apostle Paul gave us this example: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
There are several characteristics needed besides talent for a gymnast to obtain Olympic gold—and Gabby had them all. Gymnasts need to be extremely self-controlled, or temperate, in all things. They need to have great discipline as they train. Elite gymnasts (the ones who qualify for the Olympics) train 40-plus hours a week. In other words, being a gymnast is a way of life.
Being a Christian is also a way of life, even more so than being a gymnast. We as Christian women are called to set an example for our children and other women, to serve and love our husbands, and most of all, to serve our Father in heaven. To do these well, and be the Proverbs 31 woman, takes great self-control and discipline (Galatians 5:22).
We commonly hear, from gymnasts and other Olympic athletes who have won the gold, that while they were training they sometimes wondered whether the prize would be worth all the hard work and long hours. But when they stand on that podium and the gold medal is put around their neck, they all agree that all the hard work was indeed worth it—and they are glad they persevered.
Much is expected of us as Christian women. Often we may feel unappreciated and exhausted, and even feel that everything is working against us—even ourselves. Yet, like Gabby Douglas, we must remain self-controlled and persevere, and we cannot do this without God. So, it is vital that we always remain thankful to God. Above and beyond all her hard work, thankfulness to God is the most important trait Gabby exemplified to those who watched her excel at the recent Olympics. Gabby kept her eyes on the gold, and received the prize for which she had worked so hard. As Christian women, we need to keep our eyes on the prize we seek, and the One from whom we will receive it, as we work to accomplish all we do.