Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Citius, Altius, Fortius

You were wearied by all your ways,
    but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewal of your strength,
    and so you did not faint.
Isaiah 57:10

I remember as a child being inspired by stories of endurance. From a young age, marathon runners who pushed themselves beyond the limit to finish their race had a special affection in my heart. As I grew older and watched Olympic Games come and go, one event that captured my attention was the rowing races – every 4 years I would cheer on Sir Steve Redgrave as he helped to row his crew to a gold medal – at 5 consecutive Olympic Games. Gripped by the desire to experience the satisfaction that comes from having pushed yourself to the limit and overcome all temptation to give up, I took up rowing myself, at a time in my life when I was willing to push my body beyond its limits. I became hooked on the feeling of pride that would swell inside whenever I beat my previous best time, pushing myself harder than ever before.

As London prepares to host the Olympic Games at the end of the month, the motto of the Olympics springs to mind: Citius, Altius, Fortius – a Latin expression meaning “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. The Olympic creed as coined by Pierre de Coubertin reads “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

Don’t we like to fight well? When faced with weariness to dig deep, to tap into those inner resources, to pull ourselves up by the bootlaces when all looks lost, to renew our strength when we are about to faint. "Keep Calm and Carry On."

It takes a lot to crush the human spirit.

It takes an act of God to crush the human spirit.

I speak from experience. He had to crush mine.

Yet, frighteningly, His Word tells us that even being crushed by Almighty God does not always bring man to repentance.

O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?
    You struck them, but they felt no pain;
    you crushed them, but they refused correction.
They made their faces harder than stone
    and refused to repent.
Jeremiah 5:3

Yet it is an act of mercy, of kindness, for God to crush the human spirit – that we might recognise our spiritual bankruptcy, our inability to offer Him anything of righteousness in and of ourselves – and cry out for mercy and grace.

And oh! How that grace flows when we come to this blessed place!

For this is what the high and lofty One says—
    he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
    but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Isaiah 57:15

Sometimes, the strongest thing we can ever do is to cry out “Lord, it is hopeless!”


  1. When you crush grapes, a sweet juice is the result. The same is true with oranges. Sometimes God has to crush us in order to bring out the sweet fragrance of a broken heart ready to do His will. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post Diana. It was a great encouragement to me today!

    1. I love what you've said here Barbara! Yes! Thank you, that really adds a beautiful dimension to crushing: "Sometimes God has to crush us in order to bring out the sweet fragrance of a broken heart ready to do His will." Beautiful. God bless you!

  2. The ultimate upside-down kingdom--where man is not his own master and where the chips are down and are meant to stay down. This is when God is truly over all, even our lives.

    I love this post, Diana. So much of what God has done in your heart is here. As London swirls with the preparations for the Games, God is giving you an eternal perspective, far beyond the laurel wreath winnings of this world.


    1. It's been a busy year with London, what with your visit in April, and now the Olympics... ;) Thank you for your comment, it is true, so much of what God has done in my heart is here. He is Lord ♥

  3. "to revive the heart of the contrite" - true freedom in Christ...freed from the bondage to sin, slave now to HIM. Amen! Thank you Diana...oh, and I'll be looking for you rowing!

    1. Ah, yes, well, it appears my rowing days ended when Harry came along :) And praise God, He delivered me from the idol of body/fitness worship that I had fallen into. No longer a slave to my rowing times, slave now to Him ♥ God bless you, Marianne.