Olympics: Strength, Beauty, Excellence, Praise

It’s an admirable and challenging thing to be a good steward of one’s body: being healthy and living fit. But it’s another order entirely to give praise to God with our physical being, and showing that to the world!

I was stunned and thrilled to see the world’s top figure skating athletes at the Olympics, as individuals and pairs, as women, then men, and finally ice dancers. For each of them, their performance was a personal triumph – especially for those who had been passed over for the previous Olympics, or who had worked for decades to get here now. And for all of them, the mental rigor was at least as demanding as the physical. When asked about that, the U.S. skater Adam Rippon finally said, “I just took it one element at a time.” What self-discipline.

Beneath the competition between rival skaters, skating components and judges; scores, there was a flow of strength, excellence and beauty. For example, one commentator explained what strength it takes to do a Triple Axel, which finishes by putting 550 pounds of pressure on the skater’s landing leg. I lost count of how many Triple Axels I saw the skaters do in the first two nights of performances, some of them even “loading up” their jumps in the second half of their program. Mirai Nagasu was the first ever American woman to do a Triple Axel in the Olympics, and after her landing her face shone like the sun!

So they all showed incredible strength – but they also revealed amazing beauty. For some of them, the judges’ Artistic Score even outweighed their Technical Score – which is really saying something for world-class athletes. They moved with gorgeous choreography, the best of the best even made jumps timed to the exact notes in the music. Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman was one of the show stoppers, sparkling from start to finish!

And of course, they exemplified excellence. Even at the Olympic level, the two top Russian women figure skaters took everyone’s breath away.

But out of all those experiences, the pinnacle performance for me came in the Men’s Free Skate, when Canadian skater Patrick Chan danced his praise to the contemporary hymn “Alleluia.” It was like seeing Psalms 100 and 104 brought to life and embodied on the ice. As he moved to the words and music, his body testimony to the God of grace joyfully proclaimed his faith to millions of viewers around the entire globe.

May all that you do, body and soul, proclaim your faith and praise!

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub