Psalm 37: 7aBe still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways
There are few things in sports that seem to garner the same levels of excitement and anticipation than when we hear the stories of a child sports Phenom. In 1978, at the age of only 2, Tiger Woods appeared on the Mike Douglas show where he demonstrated his ability to drive a golf ball. When Wayne Gretzky was only 10 years old, he scored 378 goals and 139 assists in one season. In 2002, at the age of 15, Usain Bolt became the youngest ever world junior champion when he won the 200m in 20.61 seconds.
When fans today catch a glimpse of another child Phenom, they ask: “is he the next Woods, or Gretzky or is he the next Bolt?” Or perhaps you hear: “she is the next Nadia Comaneci”, or “did you see her play, she is the next Mia Hamm”. For fans, coaches and often parents, there is a great excitement and anticipation as they marvel at the feats of these young athletes, and they ponder if this will be the next great one.
While this may be exciting for these very select few, the reality is that most athletes do not enjoy such early success. Either they do not have the physical maturity or perhaps lack the mental development to excel or standout from the crowd at an early age. Our youngest son Nathaniel had his growth spurt very late so in hockey and track & field he couldn’t match the incredible feats of other athletes his age, and often even those younger. The mistake we sometimes made, was trying to match the performances of those around him by mimicking their training. The results were devastating – countless injuries and disappointments, because his body was not yet ready. When interviewed at the age of 18 after his first international success, with painfully-gained wisdom Nathaniel said: “Don’t rush the process. Understand the development of your body and don’t rush to achieve something your body is not yet ready to accomplish. At a young age many kids see others their age achieving massive feats and they mimic their training to try to achieve the same thing but the best thing you can do at a young age is to be patient.”
Today’s scripture from Psalm 37 speaks of this concept of patience, of waiting. It also points to this bad habit we have of looking to what others are doing or have. In John 21 Jesus gives Peter instructions to feed His sheep and to follow Him. Interestingly Peter looks at John and asks: “Lord, what about him?” (vs 21b). Without mincing words Jesus responds: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (vs22b). If you do a search of the Bible for the concept of patiently waiting on the Lord you will find countless scriptures with those instructions. Like the young athlete who impatiently wants today what others have, we as Christians can be asking God for things that we are not yet ready for. If you are struggling with “patiently waiting on the Lord”, cry out to Him and ask for this precious Fruit of the Spirit – patience (Galatians 5:22). Do not manipulate situations to impatiently gain what you desire. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)