“You don’t win silver, you lose gold.” That’s what an Olympic advertising campaign boldly stated a few years ago. Do all silver medalists view those years of hard work, of denying themselves, of turning their bodies into absolute machines as failure simply because of the color of the medal?
Vince Lombardi, beloved coach of the Green Bay Packers, made the point even clearer. “There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay and I never want to finish second again.”
On Wednesday, Lily took her final exam in her obedience class. I was pleasantly surprised and insanely proud when she took second place! It was quite the achievement. The bright red ribbon we won made all our training times seem more valuable. And since both the dog and handler are graded, believe me, I didn’t go home crying because it was only second!
But to Vince Lombardi’s point, there is something defeating about second place. It means you weren’t perfect, that someone was better than you, that in the moments that counted, you were found failing.
So despite my glee in winning second place, Lily and I were still found lacking. Despite our highscore, we were imperfect. We were beaten by someone better.
But there is Someone that doesn’t see us as imperfect. Our God treasures us; He adopts us into His family, where we’ll never be second but a treasure to be cherished. In the eyes of the One who created us, we are the best one. Even if we are tarnished a bit, a little frazzled or found wanting by others, He loves us so much that He wishes to display us as beautiful and perfect.
Whether you come in first place or last place, God values you. When you are beaten and tossed by life’s circumstances, God comforts you. And even if you feel life has worn away the best parts of you, God will refresh you; make you new, create in you an inner beauty.
In the great grace God gives us in His love, doesn’t matter if we even have a medal. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Grace is exactly what takes our efforts, our tattered, frayed hearts and makes them into something beautiful, something He can restore.
While in this world, I’m thrilled with second place, the knowledge that there is no second place in God’s heart brings an even large sense of excitement and joy.
What part of your life would you most like God to restore?