The 2016 Olympics are over. The flame is out. The venues are empty. The athletes—those sporting medals and those simply proud to forever be called Olympians—have left Rio. I enthusiastically watched many of the competing individuals and teams as they gave of their best after years of sacrifice. Of course I shouted encouragement to those from my country, but I also wanted the tired Russian diver to finish just a little better. And the tiny girl from Brazil to score just a little higher.
In my family, especially among the female members of the family, I’m considered something of an anomaly: a woman, and not a young woman, who truly enjoys the sport of “spectating.” Except for listening to baseball and football games on the radio with my dad, there is nothing in my background to account for this interest. I was known in my grade school for being the last chosen for any softball team but the best scorekeeper the school had ever known! I attended our son’s football and soccer games, praying that he wouldn’t be hurt, cheering that he run faster, catch balls cleanly, protect the goal with determination.
What was it that captured my attention in these 2016 Olympics? It was that first night when my heart beat fast, tears threatening to fall. It was watching over 11,000 sports women and men from countries around the world flow into the Rio stadium, some smiling, some more stoic, flags waving, crowds cheering. A few countries had scores of competing athletes; the country of Tuvalu (a Polynesian island nation) sent one athlete to Rio.
As they marched, I thought of another “Olympic-sized” event yet to come. A man gifted-by-God had a vision, one recorded for all to see:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ (Revelation 7:9-10)
From the beginning of time, it has been God’s determined purpose, a purpose shaped out of a heart of love, that people from every nation would parade into His presence, finally understanding how great was that love, how profound the sacrifice bringing them into that presence.
Yes, I enjoyed the Olympics and as I let my sanctified imagination flow, I dream of the parade of nations to end all parades.
Father of all nations, help me remember these Olympic games so they enliven my imagination to pray for the people who do not yet know you personally. Prompt me to love more, give more, speak more so that you on your throne can be glorified.
By Marilyn Ehle
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