The picture is our son Sam showing his silver medal, which he won last Monday at the North Carolina Special Olympics winter games at Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock.
He looks pleased, doesn’t he?
Blowing Rock, NC, is a four-hour drive from our home in Roanoke, Virginia. Our SW Virginia contingent of athletes attended the games as a group. This was Sam’s and my second time at this venue.
Sam medaled there last year, too.
Last weekend’s event was fun for all, with a banquet and a raucous dance on Sunday night and then a rush to get off the mountain ahead of the coming “wintery mix,” which was due on Monday afternoon, to break the intense cold everyone in the US had experienced during the previous many days.
The drivers of our car pool of vehicles were not concerned about getting off the mountain. That would be easy.
We were concerned that the wintry mix was coming fast from the west, and we needed to stay ahead of it while we rushed eastward for 100 miles before we could climb the most difficult part of the road we would be on. We didn’t want to be caught on that difficult part of the road, slushing through any form of wintery mix.
This difficult part is famous among drivers on I-77 as a very steep and scary stretch, to be avoided in any sort of powerful weather. It has a precipitous drop, open to the south and the east, carries intense truck traffic, slams with powerful cross-winds, and it seems to be going either straight up or straight down (though of course it isn’t—it just seems so).
We were going to be going up. We were leaving the NC lowlands for Virginia’s mountains, and we would be crossing into Virginia at the crest—in a tiny town of fancy name—the town of Fancy Gap.
Yes, the wintry mix did hit us.
After 100 fast miles, it hit us just as we cleared the rise at Fancy Gap.
I wrote about Sam as a Special Olympian in a post in June, 2017, after his winning performance in the Virginia Annual State Swimming Meet. In that post I repeated a point made by my wife Channa. Sam competes in various team efforts, but he earns his best results in his two sports that are individual effort sports—swimming and alpine skiing.
In that post, I made a biblical point as well. I’ll make a small point this time, too. Devotional, not biblical.
But, really what I am most enthusiastic to communicate about last weekend is how pleased I was with Sam’s athletic effort and with his excitement about his result.
If you’d like, here’s the link to the earlier post.
Swimming and skiing are team sports, of course, but only in a general sense—the athletic competition is between single athletes and time. During practice runs and time trials Sunday and Monday, Sam showed he had mastered his turns—he never missed a gate. (Particularly, he never missed the third gate, which was the hardest to get round efficiently and neither lose speed nor get off track and thereby miss the fourth gate entirely.)
When the competition began, the issue was time. How fast could he do it?
You see the result in the picture above. (Taken by a friend, one of our team’s wonderful volunteers.)
Our team drove six hours round trip from our meeting place to the mountain…and Sam and I live an hour away from our meeting place, so he and I rode another two hours—that is, eight hours all together. For a day-and-a-half on the mountain.
Racing back ahead of the wintery mix, I was aware that we as volunteers and coaches were doing a lot of work—a lot of driving, burning of gas, wearing of tires, etc., etc.—just to spend a short time (as short as possible!) running gates on snow.
When we lived in Maine, we were only about 50 minutes away from a nice ski mountain where Sam practiced with his team and coaches weekly through the whole season. Competitions were held at one or the other of the two large ski mountains way up north in the state, each about two-and-a-half hours distant.
Here’s my question, relating to devotions--
Have you ever felt that you were going through a lot of work, expending a lot of effort, avoiding distracting storms, just to get to the point where you can do the thing that you had set out to do in the first place--which, in itself, is the point?
Have you ever wondered, then, whether the effort has been worth the result?
Sometimes the effort is greater—like getting to and from Blowing Rock—or sometimes lesser—like driving less than an hour to ski all afternoon. But still it’s an effort.
As for the result?
From a skiing perspective, observe Sam’s grin. Sam loves to know that he is a competent skier. He loves to go on any trips away from home, and ski trips with me are special favorites. He loves to display his medals, but his medals are not the point for him—for him, it’s the being there, the experience, and the joy.
From a devotional perspective, of course, you yourself must gauge your result.
Speaking for myself, I am too easily distracted by the effort of getting there, and pray—in 2018—for a more disciplined willingness to focus on the doing-of-it whatever the effort.
May it be so.