Word this week from Rio de Janeiro was that an Olympic kayaker capsized in Guanabara Bay, the venue for open-water events at this year’s Games. He supposedly hit a submerged sofa. Not an alligator. Not a tree root. A sofa. To make matters worse, Guanabara Bay is heavily polluted — with human sewage, as well as the occasional living room suite. Not exactly where I would want to go swimming.
Judging from the photos of the waterways in Rio that I’ve seen this month, I can’t believe the participants are ignorant of the risks they are taking. And yet they do. For me, I don’t want an Olympic medal enough to even get on a plane to Rio (we have enough Zika virus in Florida, thank you very much), let alone stick a toe in some of that water.
And yet the athletes came, from far and wide. I suppose when you spend a decade or more striving toward a goal, you are not inclined to reassess your priorities when sudden and even serious barriers pop up.
Christians would do well to mimic that sort of commitment. Going to heaven seems like a marvelous and worthwhile objective while entering and exiting the baptistery. But it won’t always be like that. Temptations will arise (1 Peter 4:3). Fatigue will set in (Galatians 6:9). We, like the athletes, will need to exercise “self-control in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25) if we are to paddle our way through to the finish and claim the prize that awaits (Revelation 2:10).