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Aug 9, 2012

Aug 9 Sports Devo - Be Still (1956 Olympics)

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page of St Patrick's Anglican Church. Our daily CFMQ devotionals this month are inspired by events in the world of sports. They are available on CFMQ, on YouTube, and on the internet at plaideggnog.blogspot.com. As the London Olympics wind down this week, let's take one more illustration from past Olympic Games.
Let me tell you about Bobby Morrow. Bobby was quite the runner. His greatest successes came in 1956. That year, he won the national college championships in the 100 and 200 yard dash races, running for his alma mater, Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. With his speed, he qualified for the 1956 Olympic Games.
Off he went, to Melbourne, Australia, for the Olympics. Morrow's blazing speed served him well at the Olympics, as he came home with three gold medals!He took first place in the 100-metre sprint, the 200-metre sprint, and the team 4 x 100 metre relay race.

What made Morrow's success all the more remarkable was that, before the starter's gun fired to start a race, he would be perfectly still in the starting blocks. Not moving at all, tensed and poised to spring into action, but motionless. That's the way it has to be now, the rules are that when the starter calls “SET!” the runners need to be motionless, any movement is a false start.
Now, once upon a time, a little movement was OK, provided the runner did not cross the start line before the gun. But Bobby Morrow thought that taking a “rolling start” as it was called, was not good sportsmanship. So he would remain perfectly still until the starter's pistol fired. His stillness put him at a bit of a disadvantage, as others would get off to a faster start, but Morrow was so fast that he could still run past them and finish first.
That's exactly what happened in his gold-medal-winning 100-m sprint. A speedy Australian jumped out to a faster start, but Morrow had caught him by the mid-point, and passed him before the finish line.
Bobby Morrow practised a peaceful stillness in more areas of his life than just before races. He was very skilled at relaxing, and he said that he averaged around 11 hours of sleep a night! His habit of peace, rest, and relaxed stillness got him calm and ready for the big races in his life.
“Be still,” God says in Psalm 46:10, “and know that I am God;I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” God calls us to put some stillness and peace, some quiet times in our own lives. But not simply for the sake of getting more sleep or better relaxation. Those things are necessary to a healthy life, and God wants us to have such good things.
But more than that, God wants us to be still, to stop all our busy-work and all our worrying so that we can better listen to God. Rest in God. Talk to God. “Be still, and know more of Me,” is what God is saying. I think of Elijah, who sought God out on an isolated mountain. Elijah wanted to have a chat with God. A strong wind came, then the earth shook, then a fire raged (1 Kg 19v11-13). But God was not in the wind, the quake, or the flames. Then came the gentle whisper of God, speaking to him.
Sometimes we need to be still, be quiet in our lives. Unplug from the internet or the TV, take a break from the constant hockey practices and suppers and sales and all the busy things that fill up our lives. Those things crowd out time and space for God. Our God wants to be heard by you, in your life, but God often refuses to try and shout over all the clutter in our lives. God's invitation and instruction is: “Just stop. Put those things down. Be quiet. Be still.” Let's spend some good time with God, in peace and stillness. Listen for God's gentle whisper. For St Patrick's Church, I'm Rev Steven Page.

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