Summary: As the Olympic games loom, this is a series that draws contemporary realities and ancient modern words together to bring life transformation
On August the 13th, the Summer Olympics begin 16 jam pack days of competition at the site of the original Olympic Games, Athens, Greece. This month we have watched American athletes compete for a spot on the team in track and field and swimming and if their times carry over the Athens, we are in for a record setting month of August.
How many of you watched the swimming competition? In Athens eyes will be on the swimming venue to see if 19-year-old Michael Phelps can beat Mark Spitz record of 7 gold medals. He has qualified for an unprecedented 5 individual events and has the possibility of swimming in 4 relays, which provide him with an opportunity for 9 gold medals if the United States wins all the events. What does it take to compete like Mike? Phelps said “I started swimming when I was 6-years-old. I swim everyday for about two to two-and-a-half hours. I do doubles on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the school year and then Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in the summer.”
After winning his 3 gold medals in the USA Olympic trials, the 200-meter butterfly, Mark Spitz presents Phelps with the medal. Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times said, “All that was missing was the flaming torch being passed and a rainbow over the harbor.”
Today, I want to talk about passing the torch. As I watched Spitz place the gold around Phelps neck, raising his hand in victory, my thoughts went on to the task of passing to the next generations what we have gained in ours. I am doing a series on going for the gold, as we get ready for Olympics in Athens. One might think the logical conclusion of the series would be passing the baton but it is not. When we have the baton in our hand, we need to already be thinking of our hand off, we need to be making the plans for the next person who will carry the torch. To wait until the end of the run, the end of the swimming lane, the end of the journey to begin to look around for someone to carry the torch is too late. You need to be bringing that person along with you.
This will not be Michael Phelps first Olympics; he competed 4 years ago, the youngest male to compete in the Olympics since 1932. Four years ago he was in training, he didn’t medal, his age was his only call to fame on that day for he finished 5th in the 200 meter butterfly and event four years later he has no equal. In four years, following the advice of coaches and continuing the discipline he established for himself beginning at age 6, he has come from the apprentice to the master and one day from the torchbearer to the torch passer.
This should be the task of every believer in Jesus Christ, to move from trainee to trainer, from novice to master, torchbearer to torch passer. If it is not happening right now in your life, then you need to begin the implementation of these skills today. I want to show you in a practical way in which this happens by looking at the passing of the mantle between Elijah and Elisha.
In 1 Kings 19:19-20 we read of the call of Elisha. Look at verse 19: So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother good-by," he said, "and then I will come with you."
"Go back," Elijah replied. "What have I done to you?"
Why was Elisha chosen to follow Elijah? A few verses back, Elijah had a talk with God who said in verse 16, Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.
God has someone he wants you to pass the torch and the only way you are going to know who is your apprentice is to be in conversation with God. Elijah was in conversation, God was telling him what the prophet needed to be doing, than he so also, almost like, oh, by the way, drop on down and anoint Elisha, he is going to be your trainee, and one day he is going to take over.
Champions don’t want to give up; they try to stay in the race as long as they can. The day comes when you no longer are the leader, but need someone to lead you. In life, we come into the world as babies and we need someone to change our diapers, but one day we rise up and discover we can take care of ourselves, but don’t become so self sufficient you have no need for others for the day is not far ahead where you need to depend on someone else, when you enter the twilight before the sun sets.