Op-ed, Bill Martin
For Canadians, the Olympics seem to boil down to a couple of hockey games. It all seems to hinge on the success or failure of the women’s and men’s quest for a gold medal in what the world calls ‘ice hockey,’ and that hinge was severely tested this year in Sochi.
The United States led our women’s team 2-0 with about three minutes to go. The cork’s were already coming out of the champagne for many Team USA supporters, when the unthinkable happened. Canada found a way to tie the score before the final buzzer and then, as if the air had come completely out of the U.S. balloon, the upset was complete with an overtime goal giving Canada the gold medal once again.
There is quite a life lesson in this nail-biter of a hockey game, and even though the players fall back on old and tired sports clichés, it is pretty simple.
When asked about the victory, player after player offered variations of the same theme: we just had to stick to our plan; we just had to keep attacking the goal; we just had to keep working; and we just had to find a way to win.
Canada’s hockey teams have a reputation for success. They seem to find that way to win. Just ask the United States. U.S. teams have often been on a roll only to come up against that sticky resolve of a team of Canadians. And even when the Americans think they have a lock on it, something happens and Canada wiggles out a victory.
The women’s hockey victory in Sochi was dramatic and not without its life-like scares. For example, look how the linesman got tangled with the Canadian defence at the blue line, allowing the U.S. to shoot the puck out of their zone. It travelled the length of the ice only to hit the post as all of Canada breathed a collective sigh.
That little incident was an inch away from certain defeat. That 2.5 centimetres was the difference between life and death, and we all know that our women lived to fight another few minutes for the win.
That is the life lesson. A couple of centimetres or a few minutes may be all we have between life and death. To get the most from life we must use every minute to its fullest. We must travel every centimetre we are allowed.
It is a call to ‘stick to the game plan’ and give life all you have to get from it all that life has to offer. Just as the women won gold by attacking the goal, we must find ways to overcome the challenges of life, even those unfortunate or unfair speed bumps when a linesman of life blocks our way.
There is no secret formula, just a doggedness to focus on the goal and wring every drop of goodness and joy that we can squeeze from this temporary life. Yes, temporary. Just like that hockey victory, life has a time limit. We may think we have overtime, but even that comes to an end eventually when only the winners are rewarded.
Canada gained the gold and despite the silver medals, the U.S. went home in defeat. They could only view second place as a loss.
Take this life lesson to heart my friends. There is only one prize in this life and nothing else, neither silver nor bronze will make up for losing it. The prize in life belongs to those in the right standing when the final buzzer sounds.
We should identify the goal and keep charging toward it, never leaving it to the last minute, risking a fluke shot hitting the post.
You were not on the ice in Sochi, but you are truly on the ice of life. Have you identified the real goal and have you found the way to win?
Bill Martin is Pastor at Debert Baptist Church and Points of Hope. He teaches: We are judged by our actions, not by our intentions.