Good morning, Have you been watching the Olympics which are being held in Beijing, China? Along with the excitement of the competition, what I especially enjoy seeing are the back stories of the athletes. The events themselves may last only a few minutes. It takes mere seconds to hurtle down the bobsled course or soar over the crowd in the halfpipe snowboard competition. The athletes make it look easy. If winning gold only meant showing up for the competition, who wouldn’t go for it. But when you learn what it took for the competitors to make it to Beijing, you realize how much more is involved. Reaching the Olympics is the culmination of years of dedication, sacrifice, and hard work. The path to the medal stand often winds through disappointment and setbacks. Injuries have to be overcome. Patience and endurance have to be learned. What keeps the athletes going is hope, hope that it will all lead finally to the medal stand. Is it worth it? I haven’t ever heard a gold medal winner complain that they regretted the time and effort. The joy of victory overshadows everything else. St. Paul describes our Christian life with Olympic terminology. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:24-25). Likely none of us will experience what it’s like to be in the Olympics, but all of us are running the race the Lord has marked out for us. He has gone ahead of us to prepare the way. He fulfilled the law for us. He followed the path to Jerusalem in order to offer Himself as the sacrifice which fully paid for the sin of the world. He won the victory over sin and death. Our race is to follow Jesus in faith. It’s not easy. There are distractions along the way. Disappointments and trials have to be patiently endured and overcome. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Our old Adam is always trying to trip us up or at least slow us down. We sin and fall flat on our faces. But don’t quit. Instead, remember this: You are baptized. By water and Word your sins have been washed away. You belong to God. You are under His protection and His Spirit gives you the strength to keep forging ahead, no matter how difficult the course. Is it worth it? Without a doubt! Listen to someone who has already received the prize. Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). May the Spirit bless your training and running today. In Christ, Pastor Tomorrow is Baptism Sunday—One service only at 9:00 a.m. The choir will sing in the service. Afterwards, everyone is welcome to stay for coffee, refreshments, and fellowship.