This is an exciting summer for track and field fans like me. The Olympic Trials are going on now in Eugene, Oregon, and the Olympics will be in August. Athletes at the very peak of performance are also at the very razor’s edge of injury. All elite runners, jumpers, and throwers get injured. They are always pushing their bodies too far.
The best athletes must find deep within themselves the patience to recover and rebuild. Sometimes it takes years. Many get tired of the constant cycle of peak performance, injury, and recovery that is the inevitable part of their lives. A few find ways to build a solid foundation of strength training that keeps injuries to a minimum.
I have been thinking about how this kind of life is so very different than the way most of us go about our days or look to our futures. For example, when it comes to running, I am not interested in peak performance. What I value far more is slow and steady running that is injury free. So far so good. May it continue. But this is a way to live our lives as well. Slow and steady. Don’t burn out. Take the long view.
But those who risk injury (or serious fatigue or illness from over-exertion) accomplish amazing things that the slow and steady tortoise types don’t. I think God honors both types. And perhaps there are seasons of our lives for both. Sometimes we need to sprint and sometimes we need to jog. Sometimes we need to immerse ourselves in work and then take a nice long rest. Sometimes it is better to be patient and plant trees whose shade we will never enjoy. And sometimes the ministry or work is so very important that we even need to train like Olympic athletes and push hard and risk injury. Or even get injured and work on our recovery. Often we come back stronger from these injuries. Knowing what path to take is all part of the journey and part of our spiritual discernment.