It was one of the most riveting moments in Olympic history. On Saturday morning the American hockey team faced off against the Russian team on their home ice. Tied 2-2 at the end of regulation play, and after a 4:00 minute sudden-death overtime period, the American team won in a “shootout”: a one-on-one, face-to-face, match between one player from each team. After 64 minutes of intense team play, and with the whole world watching, two men held the fate of their teams on the ends of their sticks.
Every four years the Olympics produce one or two names that become household legends. This year from Sochi it may be T.J. Oshie – the Minnesotan who scored the shootout goal that devastated the Russian faithful.
In the midst of the epic eight round shootout one of the commentators offered how utterly inconceivable the pressure must be on each of the two players. I am not generally a fan of sports commentators (I’m a big fan of the mute button), but what followed from the other commentator was timeless in its truth. He pronounced that a well-trained athlete with a deeply competitive spirit would not have it any other way, or want to be in any other place. This was precisely the moment T.J. Oshie had lived for since the first day he laced a pair of skates and taped a stick: to use all of his gifts and skills; to realize the fruits of years of grueling practice; and to experience the fulfillment of a dream. Skate…shoot…score.
Here’s the Flash!-worthy part of the story. After scoring the winning goal, Oshie immediately pivoted and started skating back toward his end of the ice. Even while making the turn he lifted his hand in the air and pointed at his goalie teammate. His immediate response in what could have been a moment of pure personal glory was to acknowledge the one who made it possible; had not his teammate Jonathan Quick made 29 saves, including five in the shootout, this Flash!would likely have been about the weather.
As I’m running short on space, let me wind up for a slap shot. Each of us is blessed with gifts and skills that God would see used to their fullest. Refining our gifts and skills is a laborious and life-long process, demanding deep commitment and ongoing focus. Then, at some point we receive a special moment – an opportunity to experience the glorious fulfillment of our disciplined preparation. Such moments are fraught with fear and anxiety…and yet these are precisely the unique moments for which we were uniquely created. To be clear: it is not about winning or losing…Sergei Bobrovsky, the Russian goalie, is no less a hero than T.J. Oshie. It is about fully and faithfully seeking to be in the places where we would most profoundly use our God-given talents.
And, finally, it is about humility. Following in the footsteps of Jesus and T.J. it is about pointing to the One, and the ones, without whom our moments of glory would not be possible.
May your day be blessed to contain the fulfillment of a dream, and a goal…