by Jennifer Morgan
“The Olympic Games are the quadrennial celebration of the springtime of humanity.”
~ Pierre de Coubertin
It begins in Olympia, Greece long before the Games begin. A lone appointee runs through the ancient streets, a flaming torch lifted high above his head, lighting his way. The fanfare long over, the sounds of his rhythmic footsteps echo softly in the quiet night. Determination and passion are his sole companions, for he has many miles to go to meet another who will continue the journey of this precious flame - a flame that carries the message of peace and goodwill throughout the world…
Along with millions of others, I watched as the final torch-bearers of the Olympic flame culminated their journey in Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Olympic Games. As this torch was used to ignite the giant Olympic Flame, I thought about how far this flame has traveled and how it will illuminate the very best of the human spirit in the next several weeks. Nations putting aside their differences to come together in the spirit of athleticism and friendship; the human stories of triumph and disappointment, determination and passion; people who dream big and reach for the stars; hearts that believe in miracles.
As the great Olympic flame lit the night sky under a cascade of fireworks, I was reminded of another flame, another journey, and another beautiful story of the human spirit…
It began in an ancient Garden called Eden, and a fall from grace. A heartbroken God vowed to pursue His beloved children to the ends of the earth with a love that would turn their hearts back to Him. The flame of His love ignited in the hearts of men who became His torch-bearers for the human race. One by one, they picked up the precious flame and with determination and passion, carried its message of peace, hope and salvation to their people. Abraham…Moses…Isaiah…David.
And then one remarkable day, long ago, a beautiful hand reached out to take the torch. The moment He touched it the flame burned brighter than ever before and fireworks erupted in the heavens. Jesus had become the torch-bearer, carrying the precious flame’s message to the entire world. Jesus passed the torch to Peter and to His church, and now instead of one torch, there are many…all lit by the same fire of God’s eternal, pursuing love. The torch is still being passed, and I have known many of its bearers in my life. Those that guided me in the midst of triumph and disappointment, those that demonstrated how to live life with determination and passion, and those that encouraged me to dream big and believe in miracles.
When the torch is offered to me, I want to place my hand over the fingerprints of Jesus and lift it high. There will be no fanfare as I begin to run, my rhythmic footsteps echoing softly in the quiet streets. Goodness knows, I am no Olympian, but there is a challenge I am willing to dedicate my life to. As the precious flame of God’s pursuing love illuminates my path, I will run with endurance the race that is set before me, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of my faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your love that pursues us each and every day. Thank you for your light that illuminates our paths and guides our steps. Give us the determination and passion to share your light with others so that one day, all of humanity will be racing back into your welcoming embrace.
Jennifer Morgan is a published author and long-time Bible study leader. Jenn has served as a lay minister for the Spiritual Care Department of The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Currently, she is an active member of The Woodlands United Methodist Church. You can connect with her at her blog.