Religion Magazine

Etched on Heart and Body

By Richardl @richardlittleda

The story of a Word

A minister’s office can be many things, from a boxing ring to a theater of dreams. Yesterday afternoon it was definitely closer to the brighter end of that scale.  A lean and fit young athlete, resting after surgery now before ramping up his training for next year’s Commonwealth Games, came to see me. Unprompted, he told me again the story of how our paths had crossed.

Late in 2011 he had lost his way. Training had taken a back seat and too many parties were taking their toll on his race times. Flopping down in his friend’s flat he confessed that he had no idea where his life was going. Tentatively, the friend suggested he might like to come to church with him that evening. The two of them hopped on their bikes, raced down to church, and got there part way through the first song – Ben Fielding’s ‘Mighty to save‘.  It just so happened that this was his all time favorite track to listen to when running. With the song over, and an eye to the events coming up in 2012, I talked about the Olympic motto – ‘faster, higher, stronger’. This shook him to the core, as he had those very words tattooed on his side when he was a young teenager showing promise on the track – a promise to which he was currently failing to live up. When I then preached on 2 Timothy 4 v. 1 – 7, and talked about the athlete’s crown and the need to give 100% in any competition, something changed within him. He returned to his training regime with a new found zeal, found his old rhythm again, and ended up competing in the London 2012 Olympics for team GB, reaching the semi finals in his event.

One month after the Olympics, after continuing our conversation via Twitter when he was in the athletes’ village, he sent me a request. Could I supply him with the original text of 2 Timothy 4 v.7, as he would like to have it tattooed on his shoulder? In the end, he opted to have the words inked in Hebrew, as he felt this made even more of a talking point.

In his own words he described all this as a  mad ‘story’, but it is one he will gladly tell to anyone who will listen. Preachers- never underestimate the privilege you have in helping to write stories such as this – most of which you will never hear.



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