The London 2012 Paralympics

Well, I had the privilege of attending an athletics morning at the London 2012 Paralympics in the main stadium. Having not travelled to the 2012 Olympics until now, it was great to experience the atmosphere as nearly 80,000 people cheered Richard Whitehead to his 200M Paralympic Gold and a new World Record.

Thank you all…

Thank you to the many volunteers guiding people around the park and keeping things moving along with a smile and very polite.

But, one other thing stuck with me from the day – a slightly different and unusual story – for which there are some parallels in the Christian life. Though the driving motivation for the efforts of this runner in a race may be misplaced in terms of Christian theology, what he achieved and all that happened in the long minutes after everyone else had finished was something unusual.

Sensationalism, but don’t miss what’s not said or seen

Yes, there was a bit of sensationalism in it all, but that makes it easier to miss things (how many of us have been distracted and found we missed the most important point in life?) Even leaving aside the heart-felt genuine ‘good-old-British cheer for the underdog’ attitude which began in the stadium (and that without the knowledge at the time that the runner’s ankle was injured), by the eleventh minute the rising applause and noise had gathered and gathered until people by now were on their feet, willing this lone figure home. I like to think the crowd was united in heart-felt respect for someone who carried on and didn’t give up. I’m also glad that no-one stopped him because of timing or because it wasn’t worth him carrying on. It was only when the runner had finally passed the finish line that we found out the full facts of his race and his reasons why he carried on.

You can read more about this story on the Telegraph website: Paralympics 2012: Houssein Omar Hassan wins over hearts and minds with his brave, if slow, 1,500m performance (opens in a new browser window).

Setting a ‘worldly’ example, not a world record

Here, perhaps, is an example of something from the world that many, many Christians (and I’m sure most people can relate to) at many points in their life. Being a Christian is not always easy, just like running an Olympic race. Will you keep going? You can know that God is cheering and encouraging you all the way – he’s right with you, and He knows what you’re going through. That’s a bigger cheer than any crowd of 80,000.

Thank you, Houssein Omar Hassan, for a real-life reminder that, unlike an Olympic race, the Christian life is not about always trying to be better than everyone else – rather what really matters is that you take part, give your best, carry on despite setbacks and finish the race that you started. (See Philippians 3:14).

From all this I have made a composite of a couple of the photos I took that day and added some wording and the Bible verse that came to mind when reflecting on this part of the day.