Humans are Amazing. If you’ve been recently following, or, like me and a few others I know, you are slightly addicted to the Olympic Games, then you might understand what I mean when I say that.
And I don’t use that word, Amazing, lightly. A few years ago, when our daughter was about 12 years old I noticed her tendency to use that adjective very loosely … like, for everything.
I’m a wannabe wordsmith. And one of those mom-isms that will most likely ring in my children’s ears long after they’ve left the nest, possibly with a nagging nasally twang, goes something like:
“There’s a million different words in the English language. Choose the ones that say exactly what you mean.”
As I heard her gravitate to this word “Amazing”, I challenged her by saying, “Hey how about we only use that word when we’re describing something that we recognize can only be God-given.” To my surprise, she didn’t roll her eyes, but nodded her head and agreed. We have had many a moment since then when one of us has chosen to use the word in each other’s company. There’s a sweet unvoiced recognition in the exchange of our glances where we both acknowledge a deeper meaning in our raised eyebrows and our slight grins.
In this first week of the Olympic Games I have witnessed many physical feats and heard an abundance of inspirational backstories that sing of God, and are simply Amazing. Even if an athlete doesn’t publicly acknowledge this by making the sign of the cross, kissing their fingers, then pointing and lifting their gaze heavenward before a competition, or even if he/she doesn’t give a tear-filled post-event interview proclaiming “To God be all the Glory” – I know, their talent is God given.
I think it’s really easy to spot The Amazing on this stage. There are harrowing recounts that make your spine tingle, of how athletes have even made it to the Games in their respective sports in the first place. And then there’s those jaw-dropping victories I witness that just give me goosebumps. And too, there are those disappointing defeats where I can feel my heart just ache. I pay attention to those sensations of the body – to me, it is the Holy Spirit speaking. Those sensations are God-given … and reminders to recognize The Amazing not only in what I’m seeing or hearing through my television, but also in my everyday ordinary life.
In that sunset that lights up the sky, painting it all shades of pink, orange, blue and purple as far as the eye can see.
In that 3 year old whose body is battling an awful cancer and the toxic medicines to cure her… and she sings, and she dances, and she laughs.
And in the young waitress who serves two exhausted mothers and their six energetic (and very loud children), with a smile on her face, a calmness in her voice and acceptance of the chaos ensuing.
And the church member who shares Jesus every chance she gets, inviting those who express their doubt and their feelings of being marginalized, to worship with us, praying we’ll be just as accepting as she is.
When a mother, who has been looking after my children, thanks me profusely because I’ve given her children some backpacks; and I can’t convince her that what she has done for me is far more valuable than what I have done for her.
And the father who has forgiven his son for unspeakable misdeeds and hurtful words a multitude of times.
In watching the Olympic Games of late I think my heart and mind have stitched three separate but related scriptures together; Ecclesiastes 9:10, Colossians 3:23 and Matthew 5:16
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; work at with all your heart, as if working for the Lord…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
God’s Amazingness can be quite obvious in those awe-some moments when human effort and His gifts intersect … where His Glory is on full display. But truth is, He is ever-present, and His Amazinginess exists in our ordinary, and at times, difficult circumstances – we just have to tune our senses to recognize it. When your gut drops, your breath is taken away, your heart aches or it fills up - pay attention because it means the Holy Spirit is near, and that is an Amazing Gift.