Flailing & Failing


Keith Wishum recently recalled an atypical athlete of the 2000 Summer Olympics...

Eric Moussambani made a big splash at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, becoming an instant CNN celebrity for his performance in the 100-meter freestyle swimming. No, Eric didn’t win a medal. The only record he might have set would be for the slowest time ever. His 1:52 swim took over twice as long as the fastest time.

Wishum reports that Eric literally made a splash in the pool upon his entry into the water. He thrashed wildly. He swam with his head out of the water, with his arms flailing, and with his civilian style swim trunks billowing like a parachute in the pool. When he finished, he was completely exhausted; it was the first time he ever swam 100 meters without stopping!

What was Eric doing swimming in the Olympics with the best-trained athletes of the world?

Wishum answers: Eric was representing his tiny, impoverished country of Equatorial Guinea in West Africa as part of a special program designed to encourage participation from countries without previous Olympic experience. Eric just started swimming eight months before the Games and had trained only in a twenty-meter hotel pool. He was allowed in only when guests weren’t using the pool.

Compared to the other Olympic athletes, Eric’s efforts in the pool were laughable. But 17,000 spectators, identifying with an unknown, unqualified swimmer struggling to proudly represent his tiny homeland, did not laugh. Instead, they rose to their feet. They cheered. They applauded thunderously, encouraging the awkward hero to finish his race. They loved him, not for his speed or style, but for his heart. *

Compared with the sinless perfection of Christ, our best efforts are laughable. We flail and fail; we sin and fall short of the glory of God

(Romans 3:23)

But God loves us so much that He gave His sinlessly perfect Son to take our sins upon Himself and suffer the punishment for them so that we might have forgiveness and receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7). Christ “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

God will save those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Then, as we seek to follow in the steps of the Savior and walk in the light of His Word, He will applaud our flawed but faithful efforts and – by His grace – continue to cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:7).

Keith Wishum observed, “the most important thing Eric found was not fame, but GRACE” .... and that’s what we ALL need!

Won’t YOU submit to the Savior so that you may receive His saving grace?

David A. Sargent

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