I got a call from Steven who runs programs at Laity Lodge. After much prayer he and his team felt I was the perfect speaker for this unique group of elite Olympic coaches. I laughed out loud. Why? I’ve never played a sport in my life. Why was I the perfect one?
What I learned is my stupidity in sports was an advantage. There was no fawning over or impressed by –simply me being with people like me – people who want to encounter the Christ.
Here’s some of the things I learned about Olympic coaches.
I learned to keep my bathing suit in my suitcase. (They all went swimming – let me just say they are in great shape. I decided I would keep my suit in its suitcase!)
I learned they paddle-boat fast enough for someone to ski behind them.
I learned they live under tremendous stress. They have been used and abuse.
I learned they are some of the most humble people.
I learned they do their sport without much financial reward.
I learned regardless of their achievements, they like me, desperately need God’s unconditional unlimited love.
The conference started on Thursday night, by Friday evening we had all started to settle in with one another. It takes a while to meld a group together. I was speaking on Isaiah 6, the idea that God’s love is unconditional and unlimited. A concept we don’t fully grasp because we don’t love like that nor have we been loved like that.
None-the-less, it doesn’t change the fact that God loves us unconditionally without limits.
So I’m in the middle of some deep story when suddenly Cathy (not her real name) jumped up, running and screaming. (She’s an Olympic sprinter so man can she run!) It took a minute to figure out that she was freaking out. It took a bit longer to figure out what she was freaking out about.
She jumped up off the couch and ran into the corner of the room because of a cricket. Now you gotta know this Cathy lady is built. I mean she wore shorts and when she walked her leg muscles thundered. She could take me out in a second, you too by the way. Yet here she was freaking out over a little bug.
Interesting isn’t it? How we see those who are so successful – how it surprises us to find out they are so, so – human.
I decided to help her off the ledge so I calmly walked over put my arm around her and slowly escorted her to a different couch where I sat her between two male coaches. I informed them, “Guys, your job is make sure no cricket gets near Cathy.” By now the room is cracking up.
How does a speaker recover from such a thing?
I walked back to the podium…hum…where was I? So I just told them, these high performance, over achievers, A temperament, never like to loose people – “I have no idea where I am.”
I proceeded on.
Fundamentally we are all the same. We all need God’s unconditional unlimited love. We all need people around us who get us. (And can protect us from crickets!) And we all need a place and space where we can step back and laugh at ourselves. Belly aching laugh.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not wearing a bathing suit around them. J