“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” –Colossians 3:17
Kirani James made history this week by winning the first-ever Olympic medal — fittingly, a gold — for the small, island-nation of Grenada. And despite the magnitude of the moment, James will perhaps be best remembered for another minute but meaningful gesture earlier in the Games.
In the semifinals of the grueling 400-meter race, James cruised to an easy victory, setting himself up as the probable gold medalist in a very competitive field. Instead of soaking up the moment, he immediately sought out the last-place finisher and double amputee, South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius — the first-ever double leg amputee to compete in the Olympics. After putting himself some 44 seconds away from an extraordinary and unprecedented accomplishment, his first instinct was to celebrate someone else’s. In a touching show of sportsmanship and respect, James immediately sought out Pistorius, embraced him, then asked him to trade name bibs.
James, at just 19, knows that the accolades are fast-fleeting and that this race was less about opponents vanquished than it was about glorifying the man who ran beside him. We too run our race, hustling through our daily to-dos of work, family, exercise and more — only we carry the name of the Lord with us right out of the blocks, each stride a measured yet telling indicator of who we really are and who we’re running for. And even when we are outpaced, like Pistorius, we should be so blessed that those in neighboring lanes would take such interest in the name we are wearing.