I love watching sports and I truly enjoyed watching the 2012 Olympics these past two weeks. Some of my favorite sports are; Tennis, Basketball, Formula 1 Motor Racing (my favorite), Soccer, Rugby (kind of rusty in following it since moving to the USA), Track & Field, Swimming and American Football (since moving to the USA) to name a few.
There’s one thing that I have noticed about most sports especially sports like Basketball, Formula 1, Tennis and most definitely Tack & Field (again to name a few). Most individuals or teams for that matter bring a kind of swagger when they are getting ready to compete. It has become prevalent in even us the supporters. They bring a swagger that can come off as intimidating or in some cases can be perceived as arrogance. We see it in Basketball players like NBA Champion LeBron James; I remember seeing it in 7 times Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher; we also see it in 11 Grand Slam Titles Tennis Champion Rafael Nadal and 6 Olympic Gold Medalist and 5 times World Champion Sprinter Usain Bolt. Remembering back to my childhood days, nobody of any era had a bigger swagger than the famous World Heavy Weight Champion Boxer Muhammad Ali. Why is it that some come off as being arrogant and yet we love seeing others do it? Even though we all know that it was intimidating tactic for Boxer Muhammed Ali, I was one of those people that definitely loved seeing him do it. I also loved seeing that swagger in Michael Schumacher and I love seeing it in Usain Bolt, but it annoys the life out of me seeing it in players like LeBron James.
As we rapped up the 2012 Olympics in London, I sat down to watch an episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter that I had recorded before the Olympics started where she interviewed 10 of the greatest Olympic Champions of all time. As she interviewed 10 times Olympic and World Medalist Carl Lewis, they talked about the public’s perception of him as coming off as being arrogant. I loved what he said! He said that he had been raised by his parents to always strive for excellence and therefore when he stepped out to compete, that is what he was bringing. He was so confident in what he was going to do and there was no doubt in his mind that is what he was going to deliver. Thinking back to Muhammed Ali, after hearing Carl Lewis say this, it is no wonder that I loved seeing him bring his swagger. I also realized that as human beings, we have different characters. Some of us are quiet and soft spoken and come off as what our society or human race perceives as humble, while others are loud and highly noticeable and are perceived as being arrogant.
It reminded me of some of the characters in the Bible that brought what I believe in this day and age could be seen as kind of swagger in the way that they expressed their intention or belief in what they knew for sure God was going to do.
When David faced Goliath, he had no doubt in his mind that God was going to give him the power to defeat Goliath.(1 Samuel 17:36, 45-47). David’s swagger is clear as he says to him, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts… This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the armies of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands”. David does kill Goliath in his exact words. ( 1 Samuel 17: 48-51).
In 1 Kings 18:20-40 Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal (450 men) to pray to their god to send fire on unlighted wood that they placed below an oxen that they prepared and cut up and that he too will pray to God to do the same on another oxen that he prepared and placed with unlighted wood under it. The God who sent down the fire would be proof to the people of Israel that He is the only God and the only one that they need to worship. He even gave them a head start and asked them to go ahead and make their preparations before him. As they prayed to their God from morning till noon and nothing had happened, we see him make fun of them in 1Kings 18:27 when he says, “Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened”. We see Elijah’s swagger in his dramatic performance of creating the alter before placing the wood and the oxen on it, and the amount of water that he asked to be poured over the burnt offering and the wood. (1 Kings 18:30-35). That together with his prayer in 1 Kings 18:36-37; “O Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and I that I am Your servant and have done all these things at Your word. Answer me or Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again”. The Lord sends down fire that not only burns the oxen, but also the wood, the stone, the dust and all the water that had been poured over it! (1 Kings 18:38).
If the era we live in right now with all the media and press that exists, had existed in the days of the Old Testament, I believe that David and Elijah would have easily come across as being arrogant, but we all know that that is the power of faith! How my perception has shifted! Most of these athletes and even performers and artists are not being arrogant, they are just displaying the clear assurance of who they know themselves to be. They believe in the excellence of what God has placed in them and they are ready to show us what they are made of.
What I take from these Olympics is the inspiration to truly have faith in the what God has given me the capability to achieve and be and to never be afraid to show it or shout it over the roof top regardless of how people are going to perceive it!