The Olympic Games celebrates the athlete at their best. It is the pinnacle of human sporting achievement and you’re likely to see every Olympian striving to give their most perfect performances, many after years of challenging training. But today, our focus shifts to one particular athlete that has caught our attention. One that isn’t quite so picture perfect. We want to introduce you to…
The Blade Runner
South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, also known as the “Blade Runner,” was born in 1986 in Johannesburg.
Oscar is like most runners competing in the 2012 London Olympic games. There’s only one difference. He has no legs. Born with a congenital absence of the calf bone in both legs, he had to have them amputated between the ankle and knee at the age of 11 months.
Ironically, this record breaking Paralympian’s only obstacle is the controversy he faces over his prosthetic limbs, as some critics have claimed gives him an advantage over able-bodied athletes.
In 2007 the International Association of Athletics Federations conducted research on Oscar’s prosthetic legs and found that it gave him certain advantages against able-bodied athletes. They claimed his prosthetics were lighter and had more “spring” than normal legs. Although he won the appeal, he did not qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, he performed exceptionally well at the 2008 Summer Paralympics: he won gold in the 100m, 200m, and 400m events, completing the 400m race in a world-record time of 47.49 seconds.
In 2012, he will be competing in the 400-m and the 4 x 400m relay events, being the first double amputee runner at the Olympic games. In response to being admitted to the Olympic team, Oscar said, “Today is truly on of the proudest days of my life. To have been selected to represent Team South Africa at the London 2012 Olympic Games… is a real honor and I am pleased that years of hard work, determination and sacrifice have all come together.”
Oscar’s story of determination and perseverance in spite of his condition inspires us. He wasn’t born perfect, he had his struggles, but he chose not to dwell on the things he could not do, but kept his focus on that he could accomplish.
We have all been called to some great purpose. And there are times we may feel our past experiences, our failures, our lack of spiritual maturity, our lack of talent or skill “disqualify” us from partnering with God to fulfill that purpose. We feel “handicapped” and inadequate; that our weaknesses far outweigh our strengths.
Take It to the Next Level
Paul was a spiritual giant in his own right. He was an apostle, much of the New Testament are his inspired writings. He had performed numerous miracles in the name of Jesus, he had led thousands to God. But he had a “thorn in his flesh”. The Bible never explains to us exactly what it is in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, but it’s often implied to be a physical weakness. He asked God to remove it. Not once, but three times. God responded to him, pretty much the same way He refers to our own weaknesses, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Just like Oscar whose disability strangely perceived to give him advantages over other able-bodied runners, God’s power is perfected in us, not “in spite of,” but “because of” our weaknesses. Paul’s response? “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We COULD ask God to remove our weaknesses. Why not? He has the power to do it doesn’t He?
The funny thing is, if God really did that, what’s going to stop us from depending on our own abilities, on our own strength? What’s going to stop us in boasting about what WE have accomplished?
“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we haveright thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh startcomes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” 1 Cor 26:31 (MSG)
So, let’s not go around tooting our own horns. Let’s not hide behind our weaknesses any longer. Let us trumpet out loud that all we have comes from God. The weak, the insecure, the inadequate, we are everything God made us to be. Victorious in our weaknesses, triumphant because of His grace working through us that comes through our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Don’t feel like you’re worthless before God – you actually are! BUT our worth doesn’t come from what you’ve done, what you do, or what you will accomplish. Your worth comes because the creator of the universe chose YOU. Chose to die for YOU. Chose to work through YOU as His instrument on this earth. Chose YOU to be His heir and spend eternity with. That’s exactly how much YOU are worth.
“We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Rom 8:37b (NIV)
Scriptures Verses for Youth Bible Study
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
1 Cor 26:31 (MSG)
“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we haveright thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh startcomes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”
Romans 8:35, 37-39 (NIV)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Questions for Youth Discussion
[Teacher’s Note: We often learn more about a person’s true character through their weaknesses rather than their strengths. The power that youth would like to have often reveals an area where they are feeling weak.]
Who is your favorite superhero? Why? What is that superhero’s weakness? Why is it that every superhero has a weakness? If you could have one supernatural power, what would it be? Why?
- Why is it that God allows weakness in our lives?
- Who’s your favorite Athlete? Why?
- As a society we are more likely to look up to weakness than strength. Why?
- What are some of the things that our society defines as a strength? As a weakness?
- In what ways have you seen a weakness become a strength?
- Why are youth more likely to boast of strengths rather than weaknesses?
- How does Paul’s view of power and weakness differ from that of the world?
- What are some of the weaknesses that youth have to deal with?
- What understanding, or insights have you learned from your own experiences regarding weaknesses and struggles?
- How have you seen God work in your own life during times of weakness?
- How have you seen God work through you in times of weakness?
- In what experiences have you seen God turn a weakness into a strength?
Application to the Lives of Youth
- In what areas of your life are you more likely to rely on your strength rather than God’s strength?
- What weaknesses, struggles, or constraints in your life might God be able to use?
- What is an area where you will commit to trust God this week, even though you might feel weak or inadequate in that area? What step of faith will you take in spite of your perceived weakness?
Need an evangelistic Youth Camp/ Bible Study Series with an Olympic Theme?
What is salvation all about? What does it mean to be saved? This sports themed Bible Study / Camp Curriculum uses the Olympic Flag to introduce the concepts of sin (black circle), forgiveness (red circle), purity (white background), spiritual growth (green circle), heaven (Yellow Circle) and (Baptism) blue circle.
-> Tell me about “Go for the Gold”
Need a Youth Camp/ Bible Study Series on “Running the Christian Race”?
The race as a metaphor for the Christian life is used in several places in the Bible. This series is a great follow up for new Christians or to re-emphasize the basics of our spiritual Journey in the Faith. This Bible Study / Camp Curriculum has a sports theme and is great for athletes as well as a tie in to the youth Olympic Games.
->Tell me about “Destined to Win”
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