Hebrews 12:1 says this, “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that lies before us…”
Have you been watching the Winter Olympics? Do you have a favorite team or a favorite Olympic event that you have been following? I must admit, the Bobsled team from Jamaica has caught my attention for the past four Olympics. Can you imagine living in Jamaica, where they never see snow and having a bobsled team? I mean…where did these guys come up with the idea that they even wanted to have a bobsled team? How did they know they could do it? Where did they get the idea to put together a team, build a bobsled, practice hard and enter the Olympics? It would be like us, living here in Ohio and saying that we wanted to start a Surfing Team to go to the Olympics. (Do they even have surfing as an event in the Olympics?) But you get my point. Where in Ohio would you go to learn how to surf? Where do you go to learn how to ride the waves and who even sells boards in Ohio? Would you go to Deer Creek? Or maybe Choctaw Lake? Or…OK, I know — Lake Erie, right? Probably not. And where did the guys from Jamaica go to learn how to bobsled? They went to…anyone…anyone… they went to Wyoming. What do Evanston, a town of 12,500 in the southwest corner of Wyoming, and the sunny beaches of Jamaica have in common?
Well, other than Winston Watts, the 46-year-old driver of the two-man Jamaican team that finished 28th of 29 sleds in the Winter Olympics, absolutely nothing.
“It was a big difference, moving from Jamaica to live in Evanston, Wyoming, and to leave so much behind, from the sunshine and the beach,” Watts said Tuesday, Feb. 18. “It is below zero, at a severe freezing point, during the winter in Wyoming. I asked myself a lot of times: ‘What am I doing here?’ But I think I am a chosen one, and I was in Evanston for a reason: A better opportunity for my bobsled career.”
Watts came out of retirement and the oil fields of Wyoming to race one more time at the Sochi Olympics. The Jamaican bobsledders were the cuddly story of the Games in 1988. “Looking back at it, it was absolutely insane, and maybe even irresponsible,” said Chris Stokes, a key member of the ‘88 team. “But we did it, and that’s the stuff of legends.” Their goal is not merely to participate in the Winter Games, but to someday win Olympic gold. “I expect an Olympic medal within the next four to eight years,” said Stokes, a firm believer the home nation of track star Usain Bolt can also produce champions in winter sports.
“You don’t run a sled on ice at 120 kilometers an hour for fun or as a joke.”
At the urging of Wyoming lawyer Paul Skog, who sold Watts on the idea of living along a lonely but beautiful strip of Interstate 80 because it was convenient to sledding tracks in the United States and Canada, the unofficial Jamaica bobsledding world headquarters for more than a decade has been Evanston, whose city motto is “Fresh Air, Freedom and Fun.” After competing at four Winter Olympics, from Norway to Japan to the United States and now Russia, Watts said, “I’m old as dirt.” He, however, dreams of being the Jamaican driver of the team’s bobsled at the world championships in 2015. All Watts wants? One more run. Cool.
So tell me…we have been instructed by the Lord to “run the race that is set before us.” And my question to you is…“How are you doing?” “How is your race coming along?” See, some days we feel like giving up. Pitching in the towel. Quitting. Sitting on the bench and “letting someone else do it.” But, if no one else “does it” it is not going to get done. God has given each one of us something to do and only we can do what God has called us to do. Do we have the determination to see it through? To bring our race to completion? Or are we going to give up? Run your race. Run it as hard as you can, for as long as you can and one day, you will hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful Servant.” And that’s Something To Think About for this week.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at (740) 852-7800, e-mail him at m.thad.gifford.com or at their website www.3c-church.org.