Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FINISH (05/26/16)
TITLE: Finishing First
By Daniel Rae
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The single minute between rounds, didn't give me the break I desperately needed. Coach rubbed me down quick, then I turned to face my opponent; my longtime nemesis.
Bobby Atwell was the only seeded guy in the Country, that I'd never beat. Anyone that's wrestled at the collegiate level, will know what I mean when I say, no single round ever went by, that I didn't want to quit; ahead or not. For there is an element of fun to almost every sport that mankind has ever devised. But not for its oldest one. Olympic wrestling was a gruelling, thankless grind. But here I was ahead by three points, with three minutes left to go, Fifty feet away, Atwell was clearly gasping for air, looking almost sickly in his overt exhaustion.
Coach pulled me back and leaned in close, urgently whispering a single word; 'Finish'!
It was 1979 and the Canadian Olympic trials were being held in Montreal, Canada. Six years of training and countless tournaments now boiled down to three minutes. If I prevailed, I would train harder than ever till Summer the following year, then compete in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. If I lost, id never wrestle again.
I had no illusions about my chances in Moscow. Just in the USA alone, there were two guys at 57 KG, that I couldn't beat. But that wasn't the point. If I went to Moscow and wore the Maple Leaf, I'd be an Olympian the rest of my life. The only thing left between me and my dream, was walking on the mat towards me. Bobby and I met in the middle and I instantly had him on his back, as he bridged with all his might, to keep his second shoulder-blade off the rubber. There were a thousand voices yelling, but I only heard one, and it wasn't Coach. It was my dad. 'Finish'! 'Finish'! My dad and my Coach knew better than I that if Atwell broke my grip, he would be more dangerous than ever. I strained with all my might to pin him and in the process made a fatal mistake. Wrestling is all about leverage and in my effort to finish Atwell, he felt my weight shift and instinctively rolled with my weight. Tables quickly turned, and now it was I that was fighting for survival. If I escaped, even got out-of-bounds, I'd still be ahead. But instead I gave up, quickly losing belief in myself. Seconds later I watched them raise Bobby's hand, Canadian champ at 57 KG.
The back slaps and the 'nice try's' exacerbated my grief. When my dad, despite my losing, yelled 'Atta Boy Dan'!, I immediately feigned something caught in my eye; a broken ruse intended to disguise the tears, that I couldn't hold back.
Two thousand years earlier, the sun had hung high on Golgotha, and three rugged crosses. The Man in the middle was in far worse shape than the men on either side. Thick iron spikes pinned His hands and feet to His cross. His back was lacerated, blood oozing from His wounds, with every ragged breath He drew. The cross was a viciously conceived, art of execution. Even to steal the slightest breath, this Man had to push up on his spiked feet. But His eyes met with the thief on His right, who divinely recognized who He was. With maybe three minutes left to live, the crook used the last of his strength to utter a final plea: "Remember me when you come into your Kingdom" ( Luke 23:42 ERV ). With inconceivable fortitude, Jesus pushed up high enough to reassure him with His reply. " Today you will be with Me in Paradise". ( Luke 23:44 ERV )
Jesus was God incarnate, but He was also fully man. In the final hours of His life, before he returned to His Father, the impossible agony would have been unthinkable. But first He had to finish. Finishing meant enduring whatever torture that men could ever inflict, and worse. For in those final moments He would bear the unfathomable misery, of every sin ever committed, including the ones we committed today. But there is more victory in His final words, than in the collective history of mankind.
"It Is Finished"! ( John 19:30 ERV )was the culmination of all He came to do; His announcement to us, that He'd paid the ultimate price for our redemption, and paid it in full.
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