It may come as a surprise, perhaps even to those who know me well, but I actually do enjoy watching sports. I’m not an avid sports fan, but I do enjoy watching a sporting event on television every now and then. I especially enjoy watching the Olympics every four years and of course, the Superbowl. From the thrill of victory, to the commercials that air only during those events, to the sheer excitement of watching an amazing play or event in the game, it’s hard not to watch.
Perhaps my favorite part of these sporting events is the pregame show segments that focus on the respective journeys of the athletes. To some this part can be boring but to me I find it fascinating. We look at our athelets in an almost titanic like fashion. They do incredibly amazing things, almost like real-life superheroes. They can run faster, swim harder, lift heavier, throw farther, and jump higher than any one else.
We shout their names, plaster them on our t-shirts, school supplies and our Wheeties boxes. Yet in hearing their personal stories, they begin to transform. The uniforms, trophies, rings, records, and medals are stripped away. When these superficialities are gone, what is left is an ordinary person. In this demystifying process, we see that these athletes had struggles along the way. Further we are reminded of the small number of people like them who make it to the professional ranks, or to even compete in the Olympics. Hours of training, practice, preparation and commitment all in hopes of making it big.
It is perhaps also why we enjoy sports movies. The films are not just about that particular sport, but overcoming obstacles. There is something about them that makes us all of a sudden relate to the athletes we see on screen. All of a sudden they aren’t that different from us. Sure, we may not play in the big leagues, win a gold medal, or score the game winning play, but we all have dreams.
I’m not talking about the happy visions that dance in our heads while we sleep at night. I’m talking about the goals we have in life. Each and every person dreams of something better for their life. It is something they want so badly, something that they will do anything to see come true.
You know what I’m talking about. At some point in your life you saw someone do something or went somewhere, and something pulled at you. Maybe you saw someone playing a sport, or win an award. Maybe you read something that made you stop and wonder. Just what or why it was, you don’t know. You just know that you have had your call to adventure.
For me, that came when I was in 5th Grade I was invited to attend a Young Authors Conference that was hosted by Bethel University. My teacher thought I had excellent skills as a writer and felt this would be a good opportunity for me to improve my craft. However, unbeknownst to my teacher, that trip would serve as my own personal Call to Adventure.
As I walked around the campus, I saw a Bible verse mounted on the wall. I wondered about this school and asked my parents about it when I got home. I announced right then and there that I wanted to go to Bethel when I went to college. My parents were very encouraging of my dream and thus began a long journey.
I struggled somewhat academically and as such school did not come easily. I even had a teacher in Junior High who told me I was being too hard on myself when I said I wanted to get A’s and B’s and get into Bethel. I was told to just be content with C’s and D’s. With my mom’s encouragement, I was out to prove that teacher, and any other naysayers wrong.
I studied hard, I did my homework and in High School I even had perfect attendance. I applied to Bethel, and one other school late durring my Junior Year. Then in the fall of my Senior Year of High School I got that long awaited letter. I had been accepted into Bethel. Fall of 2003, I moved onto Bethel’s scenic campus, having done just what I set out to do. I was now a student at Bethel.
I’d like to tell you it had been smooth sailing and everything was perfect, but that would be a lie. There were great times at Bethel, and also some hard times as well. They were the times that molded and shaped me into the man I was destined to become for the rest of my life. I made the greatest friends, some who became family to me, and learned many important lessons from a great mentor. However, much of that is a story for another time.
What matters is that my dream, my goal, of attending Bethel happened, but it didn’t come easily. Nothing in life worth having comes easily, anymore then winning those sporting events do for the athletes. The best things in life may indeed be free, but some of them have to be earned .The fullfillment of our dreams is one of those things.
For every dream we have, there is no doubt going to be an obstacles in our way. For every goal we wish to accomplish, we will have to face challenges. These athletes show that in these stories about their lives. They show us that our dreams won’t come true by wishing on a star. They come true through time, effort, hard word, perseverance, patience and yes, even a little faith.