The 2016 Olympics are complete. New records and newly awarded medals are in the books. During their moment in the spotlight, some of America’s athletes explained their life’s motivation.
Maya DiRado won four medals (two gold) at her first and only Olympics. A late bloomer at 24, she said it “is not my end purpose, to make the Olympic team. Jesus’ love for me and all humanity is something that always helps me better love people around me. I think God cares about my soul and whether I’m bringing his love and mercy into the world. Can I be a loving, supportive teammate, and can I bless others around me in the same way God has been so generous with me?” She soon starts a new job in Atlanta as a business analyst.
David Boudia and Steele Johnson are platform divers. A repeat Olympian, Boudia said, “If I represent a good God, I need to be that visual representation of him all the time, not just when I feel like it.” This, Johnson’s first Olympics, was even sweeter since a severe diving accident almost sidelined him. “Yes I had that accident. But I still had the ability to dive, and I still had the passion for diving. God kept me alive and he is still giving me the ability to do what I do.” After they won silver in synchronized diving, Boudia talked about the pressure to an NBC interviewer. “When my mind is on this, thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy, but we both know our identity is in Christ.” Johnson added, “The fact that I was going into this event knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ and not this competition just gave me peace.”
The “shot diva” Michelle Carter is the daughter of Michael Carter, an Olympic medalist and Super Bowl winner. She won shot put gold, tossing 9 pounds a distance of 68 feet. Raised in church, she gave her life to Christ at six years old. She began a Bible study with her Olympic teammates. “People notice how I am living out my faith. Even when no one is looking, the way I act is important because it is a reflection of how I walk with Christ.” After Rio, she returns to life as a business owner.
These athletes echo Eric Liddell, the Scottish runner who medaled in the 1924 Olympics. He said, “We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.” God determines our appointed times and boundaries, whether athletes or not. God has given us “this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:6). Your life has its own platform to display this powerful treasure of greater value than gold, silver, or bronze.