I never appreciated the sport of biathlon (a race which combines cross country skiing with target shooting), until James White explained the point of the sport in a recent podcast of the “Dividing Line”. I had already understood that it paralleled military skills for militaries in northern countries, but that was the extent of my understanding, and quite frankly it never really excited me much. It is different, the biathlon, I give it that, but it’s uniqueness was the only thing which could possibly capture me to any degree. After watching it for a few minutes, though, I usually turn it off and move on. However, James White revealed the deeper beauty of the sport which will probably cause me to take a second look the next time the Winter Olympics is on. He expressed an appreciation for what takes place in the biathlon that I had never noticed before: it’s difficulty.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of going to a shooting range for the first time. I have a nephew who is an avid shooter, who invited myself and my 15 year old to go shooting with him. (If you haven’t gone shooting before, I recommend that you try it. It’s a rush!) I had the pleasure of firing 5 different types of rifles: an AR-15, a 30 yard 6, a 12 gauge shotgun, and two others I can’t remember. I’m not a gun guy, but I do now have a new appreciation for shooting. I now get the allure.
Anyway, James White went on to explain the point of the biathlon. He explained that what makes it so hard is being able to accurately shoot targets while experiencing a high heart rate and heavy breathing, due to rigorously racing over natural terrain, from shooting station to shooting station, on cross country skies. James is right. It’s hard enough just to hit targets when calm and collected, it’s quite another to do it while under physical stress. The sport suddenly took on a new meaning for me. (Now, I have to wait four years until 2018 and the next Winter Olympics!)
So, this got me thinking. Sin is commonly described as “missing the mark”, and it’s a great illustration for us (Christians). We need Christ because it is only He who can actually hit the mark, and we mournfully recognize this (repentance), and we then turn to Him, and trust in Him, to hit the mark for us. However, the “biathlon Christian” does not, and we must be cautious not to become such.
It is very easy to get caught up in not only thinking that we can actually hit the mark, but we also can easily get caught up in working and competing with each other in getting to the shooting station, and then attempting to hit a mark we can’t hit, nor less hit while under the stress from working so hard, unnecessarily racing with each other. It is important to remind ourselves, and each other, that Jesus has already hit all the targets for us… at ALL the stations already. There are no stations to beat each other to. Yet, we make the mistake sometimes of living as though there are.
There is a great point made in the song “Pieces” by the Christian band Red which applies here:
“I tried so hard
Thought I could do this on my own
I’ve lost so much along the way
Then I see Your face
I know I’m finally Yours
I find everything, I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to You in pieces
So You can make me whole”
We are all guilty of trying “so hard”. But, it is Christ who makes us whole. It is Christ who hits the mark for us.
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal.” Then they said to Him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.””
Who’s work is it?
There is no need to compete with each other, to hit marks we cannot hit.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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