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AN OLYMPIC EVENT
by Philip Owen

Every four years interest centers on the Olympic games.  Our eyes focus with increasing intensity on American athletes, and anticipation mounts as we wait to see how well our athletes will perform against international competition.  I am not so much concerned about the Olympic games except to reflect that every Christian ought to be an Olympian.  We all ought to be entered in the same event, and we all ought to be in excellent shape for this event, our skills honed to perfection.  The event we ought to be entered in is the shot put because the Word of God instructs us to do so (spiritually speaking, of course):  “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7).

One of the most striking elements of this verse is its context.  For one of the major themes of the book of I Peter is suffering:  “even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials” (1:6b); “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold” (1:7a); “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly” (2:19); “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an  example for you to follow in His steps” (2:21);  “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right” (3:17); “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (4:1); “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing” (4:12a).  Clearly, in this brief book of only five short chapters, Peter focuses on the theme of suffering.  And yet in the midst of this emphasis (and surely because of it), Peter stops and, under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, reminds us to cast our burdens on the Lord.  We are not to suffer alone.

In our basement is a round ball, perhaps one-and-one-half times larger in diameter than a softball.  It weighs twelve pounds.  (Others, I believe, weight sixteen.)  I found it in our yard some years ago and didn’t have the heart to throw it away.  It is a shot put.  And it is worthless for anything but tossing (hence the fact that it merely takes up space in the basement).  It is unusually heavy for its size.  It is also awkward to handle.  For unlike a barbell, also heavy, it has no convenient place to grip it.  And unlike a javelin, also for throwing, it is not designed for flight.  At best, carrying it is a great inconvenience, for it is not made to be carried.  So it is with our anxiety and cares.  They are awkward to handle; they are burdensome to carry; they are useless to us in any practical endeavor because they merely encumber our hands and prevent us from doing anything while holding them; nevertheless, they will not leave of themselves.  So it is that we are instructed to cast them on the Lord—not some of them, or most of them, but “all’ of them.  It is impossible to accomplish anything with a hand that is holding a shot put because it is just large enough and just heavy enough to prevent any other activity.  We must rid ourselves of our anxiety and cares if we are to accomplish anything else, for a man carrying his own cares can do nothing else.

Another interesting thing about our text is that the verb is in, what is called in English, the present progressive tense:  “casting.”  In other words, ridding ourselves of our cares is to be a moment-by-moment, ongoing, never-ceasing activity.  Olympians are in top physical shape because much of their day is devoted to exercise and training specific to their event.  So it should be with us.   Every anxiety should be tossed immediately onto the Lord.  One of the meanings of the Hebrew verb trust is “to roll on.”  The shot put is ideal for rolling.  We are to toss away every burden, and let it roll onto the Lord.  We are not meant to carry our cares; they are not designed for carrying.  The are designed to be tossed away.  They are designed to provoke us to become spiritual athletes—incentives to exercise us in the grace and blessing of the Lord.  We are to cast our cares on Him, not because it is convenient, not merely because He is a scapegoat, but because He cares for us.  He understands the burden, but he fully realizes the value of exercising our spiritual muscles and, by faith, putting those burdens where they belong:  in the Lord’s hands.  Do you have cares and anxieties?  They are not designed by the Lord to be carried.  If you carry them, you will accomplish nothing else.  Be an Olympian:  toss them onto the Lord.  You will receive a golden blessing.

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