Thursday, August 23, 2012

Off The Beam

 My daughters and I, as well as my friends at work, enjoyed watching the Olympic gymnastic competition this year.

How many times in her gymnastic career do you suppose Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas has fallen off the balance beam?  I imagine that during her practices, especially when learning a new routine, falling off the beam is as important part of learning the routine as staying on the beam.

While watching the Olympic athletes compete in this event (which is only performed by the female gymnasts), many of us wondered if we could even walk on the 3.9 inch beam, much less do the complicated combinations of dance and acrobatic elements required for a balance beam routine.

According to The Daily of the University of Washington, the balance beam is probably the hardest of all the gymnastic events:

"As thousands of fans look on, with judges scrutinizing every tiny movement, every gymnast shoulders her team’s fate alone during her routine on each event. So the biggest challenge on beam has nothing to do with a gymnast’s physical ability; it rests in her brain.
“You have to have tunnel vision,” UW head coach Joanne Bowers said. “You need to be very confident in your own ability and be able to block out anything around you. Beam is probably the hardest to do that out of any other event.”

According to this article, to develop tunnel vision, the UW relies on pressure drills, including one where one gymnast performs her routine while her teammates throw things and yell as distractions. The Huskies are trained to think about key words during each of their skills to keep their minds focused on the task at hand.

While falling off the beam is never the optimal performance, if you do fall off, getting back on, and doing so quickly (in the Olympics the athlete has 30 seconds to remount the beam) is tantamount to success.

In our Christian lives we too must "walk a beam":

 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way,
 that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, 
and few there be that find it." 
Matthew 7:13,14.

Our path is, like the balance beam, narrow.  Our way to walk requires a constant balance and focus.  And, like those gymnastic athletes of the University of Washington, we have those, those who are enemies, who throw things at us and yell at us along the way, hoping we will not only fall off the beam but also never attempt a re-mount.

If we should fall let us not concentrate on the fall, but rather the re-mount.  It is our Father's great desire to forgive us, to shower His great mercy upon us and He is at the sideline cheering us on to victory.

Little Gabby Douglas may have many times fallen off that balance beam, but today she wears a gold medal around her neck as a symbol to all that she is a champion, one who has not quit.  She is one who has continued to get up and remount.  Let us hold her up as an example and an encouragement to get up and re-mount.

And I give all the glory to God,” said Gabby Douglas after winning Olympic gold,  “It's kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.
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