God’s Heart and the Olympics

I am not a huge sports fan.

OK, that’s not quite accurate. I am not a sports fan at all, with two exceptions: 1.) When I personally know someone who’s competing, and 2.) the Olympics. With the Olympics I enjoy the events that are aesthetically pleasing, like figure skating and gymnastics. As for who’s the fastest, who’s the strongest, etc., I watch to root for the Americans. On rare occasions I’ll root for someone I know something about and like, and who has an interesting background story, whatever country they represent.

By far my favorite part of the Olympics is the night of the opening ceremonies, when no one is competing at all. (My husband finds this amusing.) As a theater person, I love the pageantry – the choreography, the music, the colorful costumes from each nation, the pyrotechnics and other special effects – the elaborate production presented by the host country.

Most of all, I love the “Parade of Nations,” when hundreds of athletes enter the stadium with their teams and their flags.

And their faces! I love the looks of excitement and wonder as they smile and wave to the spectators and their friends back home, taking videos and “selfies.” Some are hamming it up, and it’s clear that others can scarcely believe they’re really here! I love the diversity in the faces of these people from all over the world, every one of them created in God’s image.

This year the parade was different. The bleachers were empty, and nearly every athlete was masked. With half their faces hidden, they nevertheless entered energetically, waving enthusiastically, some dancing or jumping in excitement. Though unable to see their smiles, my heart still went out to every one of them.

(Translation: I was in tears most of the time.)

I want to hug all of them!

That same feeling has overwhelmed me at another time some years ago when I was out West with my sister. It was a feeling far more intense than admiration for the gorgeous landscape.

There was another “parade of nations” going on, and we were a part of as we walked along the Lower Rim of the Grand Canyon. One of my first blog posts ever, entitled “A Heart Like His,” described the experience. I was planning to repost it, but as it just disappeared before my eyes, (Oh goody, a chance to exercise patience...) I’ll have to write it again and paraphrase:

A HEART LIKE HIS

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Truly one of God’s most amazing creations is the Grand Canyon. I have been there several times with my Arizona sister on some of our annual “sisterly adventures.” The canyon seems to have infinite variety at every turn – different colors, rock formations, vegetation, even totally different looks at different times of day as the shadows shift, and the hues with them.

But this particular time when I was there with my sister Susie and her friend Bill, I was fascinated by the sea of humanity that surrounded us, even more than I was by natural beauty of the scenery.

A tall blonde woman with a Scandinavian accent asked me about a word on one of the plaques, and as I helped her pronounce it and explained its meaning, she slowly pronounced it, thanked me, and continued to gaze at the canyon. A middle-aged Japanese couple who didn’t speak a word of English gestured that they wanted their picture taken with Susie’s 80-something friend. They got on either side of him, giggling and hugging him as though he were their best friend. Bill smiled as Susie took the picture, although he seemed a little confused.

Two darling French children were posing for a picture for their parents, while some young German students laughed heartily at a joke no one else understood. Two black men conversed in a beautiful language I couldn’t identify.

A young mother had stopped to rest, smiling and talking to her baby in a stroller. An elderly couple who seemed to have been together forever, walked hand-in-hand, evidently content to say nothing.

Surrounded by many races, languages, and ages, I noticed some things that weren’t happening. No one seemed angry. No one was arguing politics. No one had an agenda. No one was trying to control anyone else. We all seemed to be in agreement (How often does that happen?) and were there for one thing, to stand in awe of this masterpiece of God, although admittedly not everyone there would have called it that.

As the incredibly beautiful diversity of faces passed by and I pondered what it was about this “United Nations at the Canyon” that was moving me to tears, I made a surprising discovery:

I was in love with everybody!

I then remembered that recently I had begun praying for “divine perspective.” I wanted to see everything – especially people – the way God sees them. And today I was getting a glimpse of His heart for the world – “every people, tribe, nation, and tongue.” He was answering that prayer!

Prayer: Lord God, You’ve created every one of us, and we are each uniquely designed, yet all made in Your image. Help us to see everyone – even ourselves – in light of that truth, in Jesus’ name, amen.

PS If you aren’t sure whether you will be part of that “parade of nations” entering heaven someday, if you don’t feel like “heaven material” because of your flaws, mistakes, blunders, and downright sin, know that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But God the Father sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, the perfect Man, to pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross in our place. By believing in Him and becoming His followers, we can be forgiven through Him and adopted into His family. You can read more about this in the third chapter of the Gospel of John in the Bible. If you do not have a Bible, email me at bascha3870@yahoo.com, and I will gladly send you one.

72 thoughts on “God’s Heart and the Olympics

  1. God is at work conforming us to the image of his Son, Jesus.

    As we learn to ‘love everyone’, we are seeing them through Christ’s eyes, and this makes our heavenly Father smile.

    Great post. Thanks, Annie ! 🌼🤗🌷

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ahh, sweet! We are long lost sisters, because I’m not big on sports either, but I do like the opening ceremonies, ice skating, and playing a good coed softball game now and then. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, but we do have a tall, skinny mountain here and if you make it to the top you can see the whole world. Once I went there and it really was like the parade of nations! In fact, nobody spoke much English at all. We had a great time pointing at things and trying to ask questions and laughing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t you love it, Gabrielle!? I may have mentioned it before, but I really feel as though I know you from your blog, and I’ve told my sister one of these days when our annual “sisterly adventure” takes us your way, I would love to meet you. A couple of years we got as far as Oregon before I flew home. (My sister lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, so we covered a lot of miles that year.) – Annie

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It is a profound thing to experience answers to prayer, several of God’s truths and his amazing creativity in one swoop. Even more so to realize what just happened. Great insight Ann.
    I ran track and played basketball. Very competitive, so I want flag waving after winning verses the pomp and circumstance prelude. Ya, that guy who wants to raft the river through the canyon. sigh.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I like the closing ceremonies, too, Gary. The opening ceremonies are nice, because everyone is excited, everyone is hopeful, and everyone is and will be loved by God, whether they win or not. (Spoken like a true non-sports-fan. – *eye roll*)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very sad about the Olympics empty bleachers and masks. I’m with you on enjoying the parade! And I love people-watching wherever I go. People are so fascinating! I can’t wait to live in the Kingdom where everyone loves everyone. Thanks for sharing the gospel! That was the reminder I needed to go and add a gospel message to the podcast.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “Prayer: Lord God, You’ve created every one of us, and we are each uniquely designed, yet all made in Your image. Help us to see everyone – even ourselves – in light of that truth, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

    No so, some are made in Satan’s image = the offspring of Canaan = The Serpent Seed from The Garden.

    Did Eve Have Sex With The Devil or Did She Just Eat Some Fruit?
    https://isthefathercallingyoutohisson.wordpress.com/did-eve-have-sex-with-the-devil-or-did-she-just-eat-some-fruit-part-1/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting thoughts. If the fruit was symbolic of something else, I’m not sure what it means that Eve gave some to her husband, and he ate. It’s always been interesting to me that Eve was the first to disobey, yet throughout the Bible Adam is held responsible. Our Sunday school teacher opined that it was because Eve was deceived but Adam knew what he was doing.
      It is clear that some people are children of God and some are children of the devil. (John 8:44) But since we don’t always discern which is which, and since Jesus told us to love our neighbors and our enemies, my goal is to love everyone until further notice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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      1. Have you actually read the article, for it does answer all the points you have raised.

        Discerning is easy once you know who the principal Canaanite tribes are, namely The Jews, African Blacks and the Chinese. There are others, but they are not nearly so troublesome as those listed.

        To assist you in identifying these people just focus on lying for the three ethnic groups above are prolific and pathological liars – it comes as first nature to them.

        Thanks for your comment.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I could not read the whole article, as it was more than I have time to read at this time. I get about 200 emails per day, many blog related, and blogging is not a full time job for me. So 3 hours per day is about my limit for blog involvement. I read enough of the article to see a number of things not substantiated in my Bible or any other version I have studied over the decades I’ve studied Scripture. John’s vision in Revelation included people from EVERY people, tribe, nation, and tongue, who loved Jesus and gave their lives for Him. I will take another look at your article, but if the message is that “the Jews, African Blacks, or Chinese” are never God’s children, we will have to agree to disagree. I have many friends in all three categories (as much as I hate categorizing people) who love the Lord and whose lives reflect their devotion to Him.

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      1. Oh yes, love your enemies, as long as you realise they will always be your enemies. Leopards never change their spots and you cannot change their blood or their genealogy.

        This is why Yashua Messiah referred to the Canaanite woman as a dog. They are what they are = they have Serpent Seed DNA and that cannot be changed.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this Annie. I don’t personally recall loving “everyone”, but I have experienced loving some that I hardly even knew, just because God’s love for them seemed to just flood right through. In situations like that, you can’t not love them and I’m thinking that is a gift, a glimpse of what is possible, like you sometimes experience and what is to come. Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a wonderful experience. To see others as God sees them. I am in a situation right now where I needed the reminder to love a friend even when they are being a challenge to me. I had taken some time away from her as I was trying to process how I feel but God kept convicting me.
    Thank you for this Annie. He used you to make me to see her as He sees her and I will proceed with some prayer and guidance from God rather than my emotions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Manu, that blesses me SO much! I do love it when my emotions confirm the truth and motivate me to do what’s right. But God’s truth doesn’t need my confirmation (or anyone else’s), and He has given us the power to CHOOSE to do what’s right, whether we feel like it or not. The cool thing is, sometimes once we choose it, we end up feeling it, too. I pray you end up with good feelings toward your friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m with you on both ‘parade of nations’!

    I loved the opening ceremony last night! How about that globe made of drones? What a fantastic show! I thought, how wonderful it would be if the leaders of all these countries could have even just a drop of the excitement and wonder of being together with those of so many other countries that these young people were overcome with last night. It would be a much different world, wouldn’t it?

    And since I live in the Grand Canyon State and have been to the GC many times, I can also relate to the beautiful diversity of not only the breathtaking scenery, but the array of so many people from all over the world. It’s an overwhelmingly beautiful and surreal experience.

    When we actually ‘see’ others in this way, it’s so hard not to love the world and the great diversity and uniqueness of the people within it. It gives those spread out all over the globe a face and they’re not just ‘the masses’ anymore. And with all the ethnic, religious, and political conflict that seems to be going on everywhere right now, it was so wonderful to see so many together and at peace with each other. It is truly an emotional and spiritual experience.

    And yes, it gives us an up close glimpse of God’s heart for the world and I find it joyfully overwhelming! But then I think about how many of them don’t know the Lord, and may never know Him, and my heart feels heavy. I want to pray even more for the nations of the world and these beautiful people who may be facing eternity separated from the One who loves them so completely.

    Blessings to you, friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dee, I have been praying lately every night, when I usually am praying for revival in the world, that the Olympics will be another Pentecost – where everyone there gets to hear the gospel, thousands of them come to Christ, and then they take the gospel back to their respective countries. I pray that Tokyo becomes the hub of the biggest world-wise revival EVER. Want to agree with me in prayer for that to happen? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  9. In past years seeing the opening and closing ceremony with all the nations, it makes me cry too, thinking about what that day will be light when we all as athletes having run the race will meeting our Hero Jesus Christ and also all the gathering of nations, past, present and future…
    Love how you made this evangelistic

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’m afraid I am an Olympic junkie, always have been. But, it does start with the opening ceremony for me. Imagine the scope of production and the rehearsals and tech rehearsals to pull it off. Yes, Godless now, but all about God later. God’s grip – Alan

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That song is just letting you know that the Olympics are a part of Satan’s world and his system and nothing to do with Yashua Messiah (Jesus Christ). The Olympics are to the ‘glory’ of man, not to the glory of God.

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      2. Of course the Olympics are part of the world system, which will end up on the dust heap of history like every other institution. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love the people involved. My prayer is that thousands will come to faith in Jesus through the witness of the believers there, and that they will take the gospel back to their respective countries – a second Pentecost!

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      3. How does that view fit in with The Lord’s words: “Many are called, few are chosen”

        Or

        Matthew 7:13 (MCV) Enter ye in at the strait gate (hard and difficult): for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to Spiritual ruin, and MANY there be which go in thereat:

        I would also add that after 2,000 years of so-called Christianity, when will all these 1,000’s be called? I see no evidence of that happening, nor of it ever happening in this age, that is, before His return.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my goodness!!! I love this!!! I experience this very same thing when I visited the Grand Canyon five years ago and I don’t think I could’ve put it into words the way you have in this post, beautiful!! Thank for sharing Annie!!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What a beautiful moment to see the image of God reflected around you. I remember being amazed at the creation when I backpacked in the Colorado National Monument, but I didn’t think about the variety of people around me. Change in perspective indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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