Today’s blog post is brought to you by one of my best friends, who also happens to be my sister! That’s her on the right in the picture over there. Erin attends the nation’s largest Christian University and is the opposite of me when it comes to career dreams: She is a nursing student. The whole medical thing makes me squirm, but it’s what she’s called to do, and I admire that. Erin is also minoring in Global Studies, which is pretty cool, too.
The other day she asked me if I would post something she wanted to write, and it had to do with torches. I told her that, as long as she wasn’t writing about the torches burning me or something (sibling love, you know), then she could go for it. I can vouch for the fascination with torches she describes below. Actually, all of the people who were in youth group with us can vouch for that. She’s the reason the praise band has “Torch” in its name, after all.
But anyway, here’s Erin and “Torch Love”…
by Erin Schaeffer
For a good portion of my life I have had this fascination –tampering on the brink of love- for torches. THEY’RE SO COOL. I mean, I like pickles and all, but their awesomeness does not touch that of the torch. Think about it. How awesome is a stick that holds an element so incredibly powerful on its very tip. The element, fire, in itself is fascinating. It has the ability of turning a cold, dark living room into a warm, welcoming home. In one second lost in distraction fire can take that perfect, brown marshmallow to a black, hollow shell. Within minutes land that was flourishing with all things green and tranquil can become a place of death and turmoil. Or in an instant the existence of those furry little arches known as eyebrows can be tragically erased.
Because of this attraction I have to torches, one of my favorite parts of the Olympic Games is, naturally, the torch relay. Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn. It’s so exciting! For several months leading up to the Olympic Games the flame travels by way of people from all different walks of life. The torch relay for the 2012 games consisted of about 8,000 people. Eight. THOUSAND. People. One of the cool things about the Olympic torch relay is that many different people get to take part. From the well-known soccer player David Beckham, to the little-known cancer survivor Margaret Brown, each torchbearer’s job is just as important in carrying the flame along its 8,000 mile journey (Torch Relay, 2012). Great care goes into this relay to ensure that the flame is protected from harm and is guided in the right direction. Then, finally, after many miles, weeks, and planning, the flame is brought carefully into the Olympic arena. The stands shake, the crowds go wild, and my heart skips a beat as the flame reaches its home, marking the opening of the Olympic Games. Cray-z.
A short time ago I was at the World of Coke with some friends. As we were walking through the home of immense carbonation we roved around a corner and there, behind just one piece of glass stood a selection of beautiful, pristine, and incredible… Olympic torches. The intensity of their presence radiated through the lone piece of glass that separated them from me. Immediately my fascination for torches was rekindled. My eyes opened wide as I imagined how phenomenal it would be to get to carry one of these glory sticks in one of the great Olympic torch relays; to be a small part of something so great and participate alongside talented athletes and inspiring people. Then it dawned on me: I am running in one of the greatest torch relays of all time. You, me, Jimmy, Nancy, Donna, Frank, Oscar, and everyone else! We’re all participating in a torch relay every single day. Except unlike the torchbearers in the Olympic relay, we are running with someone more incredible than David Beckham; we are running with Jesus Christ himself! Take that, David. That is right, folks, WE are running in a TORCH RELAY with JESUS! Slow down. Put the car in park.
Take it back to John 17. In this chapter Jesus is praying soon before his crucifixion. Of all things in the world he could have been praying about, who do you think Jesus was praying for? Us! That’s right. The Son of God was about to die a horrible death on the cross and he spends his time praying that we might know God’s love in the same way he does. Whoa. Talk about feeling loved and important.
When Jesus was sent to earth he brought with him a torch… so to speak. In this chapter, Jesus is taking that torch which the Father had entrusted him with and is passing it to us! On the end of this torch is something even more powerful and fascinating than fire. For on the end of this torch is the glory, love, and saving power of God himself. Jesus was sent into the world to carry God’s love to a lost world. After Jesus ascended into heaven it was left up to us as Christians to continue to carry that love throughout the whole world. Yes, you read that correctly. It said, “the-whole-world.” Entire. Complete. All of it. Not just where the sun always shines, poodles prance, or there’s a Lazy Boy to recline in.
Okay, let’s bring it back now and land the plane. Just like in the Olympic torch relay, many different people take part in carrying that flame of God’s love. The Father has designated a portion of the great race for each of His children, with one portion being no more important than the other. While we may see our portion of the race as something small or insignificant, its completion is crucial in fulfilling something so much greater! If you didn’t get it the first time, let me say it again: WE ARE ALL IMPORTANT TO GOD (each person, individually) AND PLAY A CRITICAL PART IN CARRYING HIS LOVE TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH IN ORDER TO FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISION. Don’t undermine your importance in all of this because you may not be the most successful or popular on this side of heaven.
In the same way the Olympic flame is protected and cared for, we must protect the flame entrusted to each of us so that it does not go out. We must strengthen our foundation in Christ to keep the flame burning bright and strong. Daily time spent in prayer and reading the Bible is essential in making sure we are carrying the torch to the best of our ability and in the right direction. If you take a torch and cover it up the flame will become extinguished and ineffective. We must take our torch and raise it up so that others cannot help but notice God’s love which radiates from it.
Instead of a stadium consisting of screaming fans, sports stars, and a claustrophobic’s nightmare, the final destination of this relay is our eternal home in heaven. After their leg of this grand relay is run and the flame has been carried to each part of its journey, the torchbearers cross the finish line, are met with the welcoming arms of their Father, and hear the words “well done, my good and faithful servant.” A great celebration will take place as something even more exciting than the Olympic Games begins: our eternity with Christ! Therefore, when we accept Christ into our lives we get to participate in a torch relay that is so much greater than ourselves. Yet even with all of the similarities, the Olympic Games have something that our eternity with Christ does not- a closing ceremony.
Mind = blown.
Torch Relay (2012). Official site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Retrieved from http://www.london2012.com/torch-relay/