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In antiquity when athletes raced in the Olympic Games, the coach or trainer was waiting and cheering for them at the finish line, so in Hebrews 12 of the New Testament where we are exhorted to "look away unto Jesus" (the author and FINISHER of our faith) that racing metaphor is effectively employed again by the writer. On a track team athletes often come out in the spring with some event or events in mind in which they would like to compete. The coaches will either confirm this idea or challenge it often with what they think is a more suitable idea, that is, appropriate to the talents and determination possessed by the individual athlete. Some runners are more suited to sprints while others are built for longer distances. Other athletes aren't suited to running at all but to throwing javelin, or shotput or discus. Others excel in the high jump or long jump. There are also those rare "decatheletes" who excel in a wide range of events. The coaches themselves were usually athletes themselves and can speak with the authority of one who has "been there and done that" thus leading and commanding the respect of the student athletes. It is like this in the life of faith where our coach is the Messiah himself and our trainer is the Holy Spirit. They counsel us and lead us into the right "events" in which we were destined to participate and excel. We might have a different idea of what those events are, but gradually that preconception or misconception gets corrected by higher wisdom. Our "coach" has been here and done this and excelled, and continues to do so today through us. He is the champion over sin and death whose authority we respect and so desperately need. In other cases we know full well what our events are but need a nudge from our trainer or a reassuring word from our coach. They know exactly how to ignite our confidence. We look away from anything that would discourage or distract from the crucial event at hand. We look away to them. They know just what makes each of us "tick" since they created us in the first place. They know that each of their spiritual athletes is unique. My friend thought our baseball coach was cruel when that coach asked me before a game, "You can't hit can you?" But he must have known what he was doing, because I went on to hit 2 home runs against that team, and we won the game!
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