It's Olympic season again and while athletes from around the world converge in Canada with gold-plated dreams, the rest of the world watches in awe at the strength of the the human body and spirit.
To tell you the truth, I've missed everything. With no working TV and American video blocked from foreign viewing on the internet, I've missed watching all my favorite winter events. But news still eaks through and this past week, no one could miss the drama when Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette took to the ice.
Only two days earlier, her mother died of a massive heart attack. Still, even in the deepest of grief, Joannie would not let that stop her from realizing the dream she and her mother shared. She dedicated her tango-inspired routine to her mother and skated the performance of her life. The Canadian crowds roared in pride and sympathy as she took her bow and tears poured from her eyes onto the ice. And hers were not the only tears shed. So moved by her strength and poise in the face of such tragic loss, the coliseum swelled with emotion and tears welled up in eyes around the globe as the world watched. It was a true Olympic moment, the kind the binds all peoples together regardless of nationality of cultural background, as we share the wonder and magic, the joy and grief of the human experience.
That soul-stirring performance catapulted Joannie to third place in the standings. Bittersweet, as full of grief as joy, Joannie Rochette captured her magical moment, her limelight.
And as we each well up with emotion for her and perhaps even release a sigh and smile, we forget that immediately following this amazing Olympic moment, another skater had to perform.
While onlookers still wiped their reddened eyes, Julia Sebestyen, representing her homeland of Hungary with pride, skated out on the ice, still stained by Joannie's tears. Like all the others she had come to fulfill her Olympic dream and maybe capture her own Olympic moment. By the luck of the draw, she found herself in perhaps one of the most difficult places -- in the shadow of the limelight.
While the world will remember the name Joannie Rochette, no one will remember Julia.
Do you ever feel like Julia?
You've finally reached that high point in your life. You are doing exactly what you were created to do and in your finest moment you find yourself eclipsed by circumstances beyond your control. You think you've reached your time in the spotlight, but end up only in the shadows.
We don't have to look far to find biblical characters who faced a similar situations. Jonathon and Saul both found themselves eclipsed by David. Each responded to their plight differently. Leah found herself overshadowed by Rachael. Esau was eclipsed by Jacob.
Even John the Baptist could have felt eclipsed by Christ, but realizing what was really going on, he said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
John the Baptist was okay with operating in someone's shadow.
While most of us will not face a situation as clear cut as John the Baptist's or as dramatic as Julia's, we will likely face situations in life where we get shafted out of our "moment."
The question is not whether it will happen, but rather, how do we respond? We can fill our hearts with viperous bitterness, ever agitated that we'd been robbed of our right for acclaim and appreciation. Or we can be willing to decrease that others may increase.
It would be not fair for anyone to have to skate at the Olympics after Joannie's moment, but life is not fair. And even though life is not fair, God is still in control and still good. Julia skated and has joined the annuls of figure skating history full of forgotten names who accomplished so much -- in the shadows of the great Olympic moments.
Perhaps the greatest call in the Christian life is not the call to the limelight, but the call to the shadow, for this is the way of humility, the way of sacrifice. It's the road that says "Yes, Lord," regardless what He calls us to walk through.
"The Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God. " --Micah 6:8
Let's embrace the shadow of the limelight.