Persistence pays off

Over the last couple of weeks, a few of our top sports people have been profiled, particularly those who have won selection to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games in Paris.

Competing at the Olympics is a life-long dream for most of them. Some have met the criteria for selection before, but were not selected, for example, Zoe Hobbs. What a cruel disappointment that must be. Years of gruelling training, sacrifice of family or social life, under constant financial pressure and constrained even by what you can eat and drink – and still that’s not enough. However, these athletes pick themselves up, brace themselves to do it all over again and aim for the next Olympic Games.

Christine Bryant, Lay Minister, St John’s.

In this country, we don’t talk much about the stars of the Arts or Academia, nor celebrate their achievements. I wish we were more balanced in this. However, a recent, exception has been for the immensely talented Tamison Soppet, the 14 year old ballet dancer from Christchurch.

She has just taken out the top award for Junior Women Dancers at the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. She is now within sight of her ultimate goal – a place at the Royal Ballet School in London, followed, hopefully, by a glittering career. For her (and her parents and teacher), the journey towards this goal has been every bit as arduous and costly as for an athlete.

Tamison Soppet

Winning gold medals is really the icing on the cake and makes the life of an athlete or artist seem glamourous, yet the long period of training and preparation is anything but – it is “blood, toil, sweat and tears”, with the constant threat of a career-ending injury.

St Paul spoke about the Christian life being similar. He likened it to a race which lasts a lifetime. It is about turning up to serve God and His people day after day, not unduly revelling in the triumphs, nor being too downcast by the setbacks. And St Paul knew a bit about both.

His first interactions with Christians involved his support for persecuting them, he was treated with great hostility and suspicion and, at first, forced to leave Jerusalem. More than once he was imprisoned or confronted with a hostile crowd. Nevertheless, he persisted in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified, died and risen. During his missionary journeys around the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, he founded numerous churches and supported them faithfully, visiting when he could. In his last years, St Paul was under house arrest and then in prison in Rome.

For us who follow 2000 years later, this period produced his greatest triumph – the seven letters he wrote to the new Christians in cities like Corinth and Ephesus, along with the personal letters to Timothy and others. In 67AD, about a year before he was executed, St Paul was able to write: “I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith”. (2 Tim.4:7)

Whether it is athletics, the arts or faith, persistence and dedication pay off, especially when the journey is arduous.

A Statue of St. Paul. Photo: Mart Production,

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