Last week, Gabby Douglas flipped and vaulted her way into Olympic history. Gabby and the rest of the “Fab Five” were all smiles after an exciting victory in ladies gymnastics on July 31st. It was our country’s first team gold since 1996 (Gabby was less than a year old at the time).
Two nights later, the world held its breath as judges rated the final floor performance by Victoria Komova of Russia. At last, the scoreboard said it all: Gabby Douglas had taken gold! She became the first American gymnast to ever win both the team and individual all-around competitions in the same Olympics. She’s also the first African-American woman to win individual all-around. Knowing what their family went through to get to this moment, it gave me chills to watch her mom and siblings up in the stands — cheering, weeping, hugging.
There are so many things we can learn from the Olympics. They are ripe with valuable life skills: Discipline. Perseverance. Teamwork. But one lesson that struck me as I watched Gabby was delayed gratification. She and her family have learned that the greatest joys and accomplishments in life only come at great cost, at great sacrifice, over a long period of time. In other words, they were patient.
James 5:7-8 says, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient…” What do farmers and Olympians have in common? They both know the secret of patience.
Patience is a rare virtue today. Most of us know what we want, and we want it now! Pastor John MacArthur says, “In this materialistic age, we rarely experience delayed gratification. Almost anything we want, we can have immediately. We don’t even need money – we can use a credit card. We don’t have to build anything – we can buy it. And we don’t have to go very far to get it.”
Patience is not easy, but just think of its benefits. When musicians practice, they can eventually perform well. When students focus, they can earn a diploma. When employees are faithful in the small tasks, they can get a promotion. When people save up for big ticket items, they can stay out of debt. When a boy and girl abstain from premarital sex, they can enjoy a marriage that is pure and more likely to succeed. When people take up their cross and follow Jesus, they can look forward to a home in heaven.
Enjoy the rest of the Olympics, and follow these examples of patience. For that is a gold medal every one of us can earn.