"But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.” Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society.
I sat at the edge of my seat. The runners were called to take their mark. Commentators bantered with each other in subdued tones as camera angles were adjusted and focused onto one runner. All the world watched as the runner expected to win prepared for the race. The crowd hushed, followed by a moment of stillness and then it happened. The runner expected to win the 400 meter hurdles did the most unthinkable but very human thing. He lifted his head a split second before the starter gun was fired. False start. He was disqualified. Inconsolable, the runner everyone expected to win dropped to his knees, covered his face with his hands and cried. Devastated.
Restart. It’s hard for me to comprehend how those elite athletes managed their emotions let alone the adrenaline rush that had already hit their system. But, the remaining runners were called back for the restart. The commentators identified the obvious opportunity that opened for the other runners. The restart was successful. The race progressed perfectly and the winner of the 400 meter hurdles was an American named Kerron Clement. Sometimes the best or chosen athlete doesn’t always make it to the podium.
Circumstance can become the revolutionary catalyst for a champion.
Things happen. People act like human beings. Situations develop. All of the sudden, it’s your turn to accept or decline the opportunity given to you. In quiet moments, you may have day dreamed about what it would be like to get the opportunity or perhaps secretly you hoped for it. But, deep down, you never really imagined it could happen. Then, unexpectedly, as all the world is watching, the very thing you dreamed and hoped for is offered to you. (okay, maybe not the whole world is watching…but it can feel like that!)
Champions seize the opportunity.
Champions know what it takes to triumph through the gauntlet of relevant emotions as they erupt. They know how to regulate body chemicals like adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol even as they explode and compete internally challenging our clarity of mind. Champions guard against guilt or shame sabotaging their performance. They operate with a clear conscience and accept the truth that someone else’s failure can become their opportunity to rise. All of this and more can happen in seconds! Friends, it is for this moment we train and when this moment arises, we need to seize it!
The Apostle Paul seized his opportunity and seriously trained to become a witness for Jesus Christ. Paul's rise to the podium was an ascent of submission and surrender. His words of truth written to the early Christian communities were a direct result of his personal descent toward holiness and humility. Paul had firsthand knowledge of what it meant to be a devoted, connected and generous Christ follower. Words like grace, salvation and faith took on new dimension when combined with the significance of Paul's personal journey. He experienced devastating loss and ultimate triumph because of his relationship with Jesus. Paul’s most influential letters were written from prison or captivity. It is when Paul is in the darkest of chambers that the light of Jesus Christ burned brightest. Carpe diem, Christ followers, carpe diem!
‘You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.’ Ephesians 3:8-10 CEB