Olympic Gold Where You Least Expect It

August 14th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 1: 8-9 (NLT)

8 My child, listen when your father corrects you.
      Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
 9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace
      and be a chain of honor around your neck.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

You’d have to have been living in a cave somewhere to not have heard all the hype about Michael Phelps and his quest for the world record for Olympic gold medals. Last night, the twenty-three year old U.S. swimming phenom from Maryland might as well have had fins and gills instead of arms and legs as he shattered world record after world record- most impressive being an unprecedented eleven gold medals to his name.  Eleven!  I couldn’t even swim that many laps across the pool!

As Laura and I were beginning the arduous process of putting Sadie down for the night (if you can call it for the night . . . try for three hours,) we watched as NBC broadcasted the historic moment on international television.  Besides the obvious fanfare that surrounded the event, the other thing that caught my eye was the camera’s repeated capturing of Phelp’s mother.  Interviews and still shots of Michael and his mother were plastered all across the screen and at the moment he waved “bye-bye” to the old record, we all beheld his mom cheering and shouting for her boy with tears of pride running down her face.

Many articles and news stories have been released leading up to the Olympic games in China that have heralded Michael Phelps as possibly the greatest athlete to ever complete for Olympic hardware.  Some of them have even analyzed the physical and physiological attributes of the swimmer, determining that lactic acid returns to his body after the breakdown of muscle at a rate unknown to common people.  Literally, his body seems made for strenuous activity.  His wingspan is six feet, seven inches and his feet are a “flipper-like” size fourteen!  The man is like a human fish!

In addition to that, Michael’s personal website reveals that, at the age of fifteen, he was the youngest male record holder in modern history.  Bypassing his collegiate career, he went straight to professional swimming and shortly on to world dominance.

Couple that with his role in securing gold medals for the United States in an Olympic year that so far has been dominated by the Chinese, Michael Phelps is nothing less than an international celebrity.  Adorned with American flags, cheered by millions, and applauded by President Bush himself who was on hand to view the historic moment, tears of joy and patriotism streamed down his face.  

Where did the camera pan to next?  You guessed it . . . his mom.

There’s something about a person’s family that makes even the most interesting story more endearing.  We want to watch Phil Mickelson embrace his children after winning The Masters.  We want to mourn the death of Michael Jordan’s beloved father.  And we want to celebrate with Michael Phelp’s mother as she roots for her son.

Family, and specifically parenthood, is about sacrifice and influence.  I guarantee that when Phelp’s mom cheers, she can recall with great detail the thousands of trips to the practice pools– the thousands of swim meets– the nights that tears of disappointment were shed over defeats– the hours of tutoring that were required to keep a young athlete on the right academic path.  Sure, we all clap too; but his mom has way more to clap for.

Proverbs 1: 8-9 leads the reader down the next path of wisdom . . . and it’s a place that many of us don’t automatically want to go.  In essence, God is telling us that the correction of our parents will lead us to grace and honor.  

Correction?  Are you sure?  Come on, dude!  There has to be another way!  Clean my room?  Take out the trash?  Do my homework?  Make my curfew?  These sound like they’re really going to set me apart in this world!  Yeah right!

Oh, and don’t think that these kinds of issues are confined to the young.  As a grown man, the influence of my parents is still a key component in my life.  But just ask Michael Phelps and I bet he wouldn’t roll his eyes at the loving, and no doubt disciplined care that his mother provided for him all those years.

This passage says that by listening to the “correction” and “instruction” of our parents that we will adorn ourselves with a “crown” of “grace” and a “chain of honor.”  

Chain of honor?  Sounds a lot like the gold medal to me!  Maybe ours isn’t setting world records or establishing global athletic dominance, but rest assured that there are rewards to be achieved when we are willing to listen and enact the wisdom of our parents or parent-figures.  You want wisdom?  It doesn’t alway come by osmosis or by meditation.  Sometimes, it comes by just listening to that parent that you’re convinced has no idea what they’re talking about.  News flash . . . they may know more than you think.

Is that a popular concept?  Probably not.  But then again, how many world records do most normal people hold?  Yeah, I think you get the point.


~ by johndriver on August 14, 2008.

9 Responses to “Olympic Gold Where You Least Expect It”

  1. Well John. I told you and I made a promise that this morning, before school, i would get on here and read it. (:
    I am probably going to miss the bus too. But that’s okay. I think. haha.
    But well you are absouluty right. I never thought of it that way. Michael Phelps is an amazing swimmer. I can’t swim to save my life. But I will get in on my bible and read proverbs. I was listening to you last night, and about how we’re not going to be week this semester. I felt weak they day I walked out the door, for the first time after summer, I was weaker than ever. I felt useless. But like you said, grace, mercy, peace.
    Peace to you John, Laura and Sadie.
    Much love.

  2. This totally hits an issue I’ve been having lately. I’ve told you before that I am a rebellious child. Just ask my mom. But when I read Proverbs 1:8-9 it totally hit me, finally, that my mom has been right about pretty much everything. And all the problems I am having are because I didn’t listen to her in the first place. I guess I need to change my attitude…



  3. Well that kinda sucks..haha. Now I see why they push us to freakin hard because they know what we are and are not capeable of. If michael phelphs mom wouldn’t have been their cheering him on and being his “coach” when he needed it he wouldn’t have the same love and respect for his mom. Kinda like God..I always forget that He is a father to us and me. God gives my parents insturction just like my parents do me. So I trust that God knows everything, not saying the same for my parents but everyone has a lil Jesus in them because the closer we get to God the more He will rub off on us. So God is my father, my dad on earth is my dad, and I have my mom. God knows what He is doing even if I don’t but I guess if my parents follow in His step what they are doing for punishment to us when we screw up is dare i say it probly the best thing that could ever happen to us. I hate making the same mistakes all the time feeling guilty for snapping your best friends or just something you have been struggling with but when yu tell God and your parents it makes alot more since of how to quit because you know that when you tell your parents they get upset because we are hurt and we screwed up and now they have to punish us but If we didn’t have a God to tell parents how to deal with us the world would be completly messed up. I don’t really know where I’m going with this but yea…

    over and out


  4. I have to say that the other very present aspect of my mom in my life was the number of times she prayed for me when I seemed to go astray. Oh, there were so many times in my life that I knew, that I knew, that I knew I was doing the right thing and it was everything my mom had told me not to do. She would make her disapproval known a couple of times and after I ignored her those couple times she did the unthinkable. She partnered with the Lord and PRAYED. Trust me when I tell you that the Lord got a hold of me. My mom trusted and believed something so great…. that if she could not get to me the Lord could. I will be honest with you. The Lord’s spankin’s hurt so much more then any one my mother or father could have ever given me. I thank God every day for my mother who stayed at her post and prayed.

  5. just like everyone else i have those moments where i think my parents are insane. after failing to obey many times i have learned they know best. it stinks to say that, but its true. this is not always easy to do either, but it makes me want to try that much harder knowing there are gifts in store. (grace and honor)

  6. This is something that I have been thinking about lately. My parents really are just trying to help, while I’m trying to figure things out on my own. First of all, I need to go to God about all of my problems. Adults, in general, have more experience in life and actually know what they’re talking about. They are a gift from God to help us through our problems. The Lord is our supplier and he will give us what we need because he loves us. I just want to continuously give all of my praise to Him for giving me two parents who love and care about me so much.

    -Jenny Claire

  7. I didn’t completely appreciate the value of parental guidance until about June 18th, 2007 when I left for boot camp and my parents weren’t there to advise me on different circumstances which I encountered, now granted during boot camp I couldn’t tie my shoe w/out someone giving me permission, I still missed having mom or dad there. Even after being away from home for the majority of the past year or so I still at times ask myself how my parents would handle day to day situations. Or even calling home to discuss something that might have happened to get some advice.

  8. My parents are the greatest role models in my life. They give me advice and help me out everytime I mess up. Even though I don’t always like to hear what they are saying, I do way better when I listen to them instead of going my own way. In fact, when I stop listening to my parents advice, I almost always regret it.

  9. Wow! I hate hearing my parents are right! 🙂 It kills me. I find myself watching my parents every move even when they are not trying to tell me something! They truly are the most influential people in my life. God instills in them what he wants us to learn. Technically, they have more wisdom than us because of living longer. They have experienced more than we have. Yes, I know they are not always right, but God is. God is perfect, and if he is telling us to listen and obey them, then he must have a good reason. He has already promised us a longer life by choosing to obey them. We also gain so much more insight to life when we do. We will grow closer to our parents, we will grow closer to God, and we will probably succeed more with knowing what they taught us. God, I need major help with listening to my parents. I know that they want what is best, but sometimes it is very hard to remember that when we are arguing over what I should do. Please help me to find strength when I need it! I have the greatest parents ever! Thank you for already blessing me with an irreplaceable momma and daddy to raise me 🙂

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