“I didn’t say anything to anybody else, but there wasn’t a shot in [heck] I was losing that race tonight; and, if I did, every ounce I had was going to be left in the pool.” – Michael Phelps

Watching Michael Phelps win the 200 Butterfly late last night I’ll never forget, and not because it was his 20th gold medal. I am used to seeing him win (I am not staying up that late to watch him win bronze!) Yet, there was something different about last night that captured my attention. Not just because he smoked the previous night’s shadowboxer (who didn’t even medal in this race;) what caught my eye was his drive and determination as he cut through the water like a knife through hot butter. I told Erin I am not sure I’ve seen a more powerful athlete in any sport – the way his body was a perfectly disciplined machine doing precision work that would make any CNC engineer proud. The WAY in which he swam exhibited his desire and focus.

Driving to work this morning, I could not get the images of the race out of my mind; as I sat down at my desk it hit me – We saw last night from Michael Phelps the textbook approach to being a disciple of Christ. Since London, Mr. Phelps retired, got arrested for DUI, did 45 days of in-patient rehab, and a few other things that very easily could have kept him out of the pool. Yet, when he made up his mind that he was coming back, he was all-in. He knew there was no reason to come to Rio if he wasn’t going to do whatever it took to be the very best. Long before I saw his quote above, I knew that was his attitude.

What does this have to do with being a disciple of Christ? Simple. What if we, the people of God, were as devoted to carrying out what Christ told us to do as our way of life (to love the Lord our God with all that we have and our neighbors as ourselves?) How much would our lives change? How much would our church change? How much would our families change? How much might the world change? I am not sure we can imagine. I do know this – Christ did not call us to this way of life if he did not expect us to follow this way. Christ did not call us to this way of life if he accepted excuses for not doing as he commanded. You and I, more often than we might care to admit, find myriad ways to beg off being disciples – whether we decide to not go to church this week or pass on our daily scripture readings or decide we will not put the first 10% of our gross (the tithe) to this week’s offering or fail to reach out to those in need without worrying about why they got that way…I could go further but I think you get the point. If Michael Phelps reached for excuses to not train the way you and I justify our excuses for not loving the Lord our God with everything we have and our neighbors as ourselves, there is no way we would have been treated to last night’s glory.

Friends, let us stand in awe of Michael Phelps’ accomplishments. Let us go further and be inspired to follow Christ with the same ferocious tenacity Michael Phelps approached the 2016 200M Butterfly. I have a feeling the result will make an Olympic Gold Medal pale in comparison.

Grace and Peace, Lamar