In the 2012 Olympics theme song Wonder, Emeli Sandé sings “I am full of light, I am full of wonder . . . Though our feet might ache, the world’s upon our shoulders. No way we goin’ break, ‘cos we are full of wonder.” There is no better song of victory than one that recognizes that victory is greater than what we see in the physical. True victory is only achieved by the Spirit. Only a wonder-filled faith provides the persistence and the determination even required to do what is necessary to be eligible to compete. The truth is that all Olympians are all winners. Winning a medal is one of many gifts but not the most sacred one. The truth is that the struggle to overcome the odds is more victorious than winning the gold itself. When we stay the course – when we practice, push, plough, pray, and persist, the process of learning to be our best is the greatest gift. When we learn how to reach for the “highest prize” – that wonder-filled faith that defies defeat – not only do we learn that we are far greater in the Spirit than what we see in the flesh but we become a living testament for others.
Oscar Pistorius, the South African runner who is a double amputee, has that wonder-filled faith. He did not win a medal but he made history as the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics. Born in South Africa in 1986 with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs, his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles when he was eleven months old. But he was raised to do everything that his brother – who was not an amputee – did. His sporting motto is: “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” As a kid, he played rugby on his school’s team, as well as water polo and tennis. Eventually, Pistorius took part in club Olympic wrestling. But his blessing came with a serious rugby knee injury in June 2003. He was introduced to running while he was rehabilitating and “never looked back.” A wonder-filled faith realizes that there is a blessing in every injury.
Bryshon Nellum had a wonder-filled faith. He was shot in the legs when he was a student at USC while attending a party near the campus. He was hospitalized for four months and had to undergo three major surgeries, the most recent in 2011. But he trained through the pain and suffering and did not merely learn to run again – he actually got a spot on the Olympic team. He won a silver medal as part of the men’s 4×400 relay, and he was selected by his fellow athletes to carry the US flag in the closing ceremonies. A wonder-filled faith allows us to see beyond the appearances of things and defy the odds by moving forward despite the appearance of a major setback.
Manteo Mitchell showed us all the wonderful magnitude of faith when he kept on running despite the fact that he broke his leg during the Olympics 4×400 relay preliminaries. Mitchell actually finished the race with an injury that would have incapacitated anyone who didn’t realize that Spirit rules flesh. Rather than let his teammates down, Mitchell kept going. His team could not have won their medal without Mitchell. A wonder-filled faith is the pure potential that we all have to move miraculously beyond the boundary of belief to excel.
Lashinda Demus dug deep to tap the infinite possibility of a faith-filled wonder. She missed a spot on the Olympic team at the 2008 trials in part because she had been pregnant with twins the previous year. But she remained steadfast and in 2012, she returned to Hayward Field and ran the 400-meter hurdles again. When she crossed the finish line at the Olympics, the cameras showed her twins Dontay and Duaine screaming in praise for their mommy. A wonder-filled faith teaches us that the things that set us back are the challenges that catapult us forward.
Lopez Lomong‘s life is a wonder-filled faith as his mere existence is a testament to the power of Spirit. In order to compete in the final of the 5,000-meter race at the 2012 London Olympics, he first defied death in Southern Sudan after he was abducted and taken from his parents at age six and forced to join the militia by rebels. He nearly died in captivity as one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan at the age of six but fled after several years and eventually moved to the United States. During captivity as a child, he ate nothing but sorghum mush — untreated grain seed — with a flourish of sand for weeks and watched as other children died because there wasn’t enough food to sustain them. In Kimotong, his home, he had played hide-and-seek with his older brother, Lothur and Odu, a game similar to football without the ball. Those games prepared him when, in the middle of the night, teenagers from his hometown, family friends, escaped the camp with young Lopepe in tow. They went through a hole in the fence and started running. They ran barefoot for two days and two nights, on and off. They ran around bushes and fallen branches with huge thorns, over savanna plains and gravelly soil – all the way to northern Kenya, a few dozen miles away. Only a wonder-filled filled faith could give a child without food or shoes the ability to run to freedom – and end up here – educated, with a Nike contract. A wonder-filled faith goes before us in the unseen to bless us with more than we could ever imagine.
A wonder-filled faith is more prestigious than a medal because it’s the muscle-filled body of the Spirit that will press forward to win the upward prize of the consciousness of Jesus Christ. Christ consciousness transcends religion. It is more being than a Christian or a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Jew, or any religion; it is the love that we call God – for lack of a better word. It’s not a white man in the sky or an angry finger pointing, it is the power in us at its most profound level. It is the true light that shines within us – pushing us to run faster, swim quicker, jump higher, throw farther, aim better, and simply be better than we could ever imagine. This miraculous energy and awesome strength is available to us 24-7. If you haven’t been able to tap it, come join us at Spiritmuv where we as a community continue to grow in its power.
SPIRITMUV SPIRITUAL BOOT CAMP meets every Sunday at 2:30 PM at the Unity Center of New York City, located at 213 West 58th Street in Manhattan, near Columbus Circle. Join us on the Hope of Glory Cruise in 2013 by calling Cruise One at (800)619-1694.