This post continues my daily, Lenten updates of my blog, focusing on WIGIAT? or Where is God in all this?
This week, the NCAA wrestling championships have been on, and I've been watching closely. One of the most significant things to ever happen in the history of this tournament, is when the great Dan Gable finished his previously undefeated collegiate career with a loss. This loss was devastating for Gable, and he has relayed that for the first time, when it came to wrestling, he just couldn't figure out what had happened. He felt very lost in the one thing in his life that he'd always had control over.
In the wake of the loss, while he was busy feeling sorry for himself, his mother drove down to see him, and in a very ungentle way, sent a message to him to quit feeling sorry for himself, and get back to work. And Dan Gable did get to work, preparing himself for the 1972 Olympics, where he won the gold and did not allow an opponent to score a point on him throughout the tournament. From there, Gable went on to become the greatest college wrestling coach of all time, leading the University of Iowa to 17 national championships during his 22 year coaching career.
Who knows what would have happened if Gable hadn't lost, but that loss certainly helped propel him to become the dominating Olympian and coach that he was. But it also took the love of his mother, the love that didn't just accept Dan as he was, and leave him wallowing, but instead helped him remember who he was and what he valued.
In life, we go through set-backs all the time, and even the things that we have always felt control of, will eventually be taken away. But God has given us our time and abilities and values so that we can accomplish this or that, we have been given these things so that we can live lives of meaning and purpose rooted in what's important. In our lives of faith, this purpose is rooted in the love and hope of Christ, who calls us not to dwell in our sin and self-pity, but instead to return to the life that is found in someone who has turned the biggest loss of all, death on a cross, into the world's greatest victory.