There is something that separates the good from the great, the mediocre from the extraordinary and the average from the unprecedented. When you study the life of an Olympian, I believe you can find many correlations to the heroes of the faith.
Some would look at Michael Phelps, for example, and say he was lucky to be genetically gifted and chosen to become an extraordinary swimmer. On the surface it is easy to come to that conclusion. I've read articles about his ankles bending better than those of other swimmers, his incredible wingspan, and whether or not he is double-jointed. As it turns out, the reason that the Olympian was able to achieve the title of the greatest swimmer of all time was because of how hard he worked on his craft.
On top of his arduous workouts, Phelps was taught to never say he couldn't do something. In all his practices and trial races he imagined and envisioned himself competing the way he wanted the race to go. Anyone who looks deeper into his life can easily tell it's not because of an inch or two here or there but because he gave the sport his all.
I find that many Christians come to the same conclusions about the heroes of the faith to give themselves the easy way out. They say, "Well, they were just lucky to be chosen" or "They were blessed to be mentored by so-and-so." While we all have different advantages and disadvantages in life, I think if we take a closer look, we will find there is certainly more to the story.
I recently had a revelation on this with regard to giving. One day I was sitting in my office planning out my financial future for my family, as many of us do, and the Lord started speaking to me about the different streams of income He was going to use in my life. I started listing off each area one after another — a salary, a book, etc. When I got to the seventh item, God spoke to me and said that it would be giving.
It is a foreign concept to the world — and sadly, even to believers, including myself at the time — that giving is a stream of income. Scripture tells us in Luke 6:38 (NIV), "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." How often have you thought, "When I become steadier in my career or get that bonus, then I will really invest in the kingdom of God"? We think, "Let's leave the giving to the people who were just blessed by God with a lot of money," just like Michael Phelps was blessed genetically.
Can I tell you that in God's kingdom, that is not how it works? I am a missionary myself, but I give and support numerous missionaries monthly.
Why? God doesn't want 10% of your money or my money, friends; He wants all of it. Everything good and pleasing in your life has come from the Father of heavenly lights. He is the Owner and we are the stewards of the money.
Many heroes of the faith, when you look at their lives, gave absolutely everything for the sake of the gospel. Rees Howells felt so called to intercession that he would live like those he was praying and interceding for. He would pray, and once the breakthrough would come for him, the breakthrough would come for those he was praying for.
Howells once believed for a move of God amid the homeless community in his area, so for many months he lived like them, eating one meal a day. He took his call to intercession so seriously that he became the breakthrough.
Can you imagine living a life like this? What if Christians lived like many of these Olympians do? What if you gave your all to the One your heart burns for? There is nothing you can't do in Christ Jesus.
Envision all that you want to do for the kingdom of God every day and sow into it until it becomes a reality.
Evangelist Caleb Wampler is founder and CEO of Kingdom Encounters International. He has seen hundreds of thousands of people come to Jesus in countries that are hostile to the gospel, witnessed incredible miracles, and regularly experiences God's wonder. For more information on evangelist Caleb Wampler, check out his ministry website at kingdomencounters.us. Stay connected through Caleb's social media on Facebook and YouTube, and tune in to his podcast, Awaken the Wonder, on the Charisma Podcast Network.
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