Today the 22nd Winter Olympics will kick off in Sochi, Russia with a much anticipated dazzling opening ceremony. Spectators from around the world will watch the lavish event and introduction of athletes, ending with the pinnacle of the ceremony – the lighting of the Olympic flame! Great fanfare and grandeur is made of lighting this blaze, which symbolizes “the light of spirit, knowledge, and life,” and is the official start of the Olympic Games. It is also considered an esteemed honor to be the one chosen to light the Olympic flame.
All this got me to thinking about the amazing care and significance surrounding this flaming event. How this tradition has been meticulously passed on since its origins in ancient Greece, where a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics. (The fire was reintroduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam.) The flame is lit from a torch that was ignited months prior at the ancient Olympics site in Olympia, Greece and then travels thousands of miles, carefully guarded with great care as not to be extinguished (and if it is, the flame used to light the Olympic cauldron must trace back to the Olympic lighting ceremony in Greece. Thus they have “backup” torches that were all lit at the originating Olympic ceremony in Greece)! Sometimes the flame is passed from one torch bearer to another, eventually, safely arriving at it’s final destination. The flame then brightly blazes throughout the entire Olympic games and is extinguished on the final day. All to be repeated at the next Olympic games.
On further reflection I asked myself, “Do I take as much care to keep the “flame” of my faith burning? Assuring with utmost care that it is not extinguished? That it stays true to the original “ignition,” and can be passed on to my children, their children, and to generations to come?” There have been times in my 40 years of walking with the Lord that my “faith flame” was almost extinguished. The winds and trials of life threatening to snuff it out, oft times my heart weary of continually fanning the flame to keep it brightly burning.
I love what Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him to “keep the flame burning”.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
2 Timothy 1:5-7 (ESV).
These words exhort me to keep fanning the flame of my faith, and embrace the gifts and calling that God has lovingly bestowed on me, knowing and believing that through God’s power I need not fear and let the flame go out. But instead, through His love and strength, I can keep the flame resilient and burning brightly, as well as pass it on to my children and generations to come! (Joel 1:3)
Unlike the Olympic flame that is extinguished at the end of each Olympics and reignited upon the start of the next, God’s flame never goes out! Psalm 135:13 reminds us, “Your name, Lord, endures forever, your renown, Lord, through all generations.” And Psalm 145:13-14, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.”
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22), all things that help keep our “flame” burning bright, come from God. His amazing, unmerited gift to us through His Son Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and His Holy Spirit living in us.
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)
What a promise!!! When I am weary of “fanning the flame” I stand firm on these uplifting verses. God is right there to catch me when I fall or feel I cannot endure another day. All I need do is to have faith and trust in Him, and in HIS strength; fan the flame, fiercely guard it, and lovingly pass it on to others.
As you watch the Olympic flame being lit today, be reminded of God’s “flame of faith” in you. Keep the Flame Burning and pass it on!
For His glory,
I would encourage you, as part of your Olympic experience this year, to watch the Academy Award winning movie Chariots of Fire. It is one of my all-time
favorite inspirational movies! It beautifully tells the true story of
Eric Liddell, a 1924 olympic champion of great faith.