Solomon wrote: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). His point was that the obvious does not always happen. For example, we think the fastest runner should win the race or the strongest army should win the battle, etc. And while that might generally be the case, it does not always happen. The following story from the 2002 Winter Olympic Games is one of many that make this point quite well.
In the Men’s Short Track 1000 Meter Speed Skating Race there were five finalists that qualified for the medal round. Among those was the host nation favorite, Apolo Ohno, from the United States. Three of the other skaters from Korea, Canada and China were also strong contenders. But the fifth athlete was not considered a threat. He was an Australian by the name of Steven Bradbury who only won a spot in the medal race because of the misfortunes of much more formidable competitors.
As the event unfolded, it was pretty much the close race everyone had anticipated from the frontrunners with the Australian trailing and sure to come in last. But then they entered the curve of the final stretch. The Chinese skater bumped the American causing both to careen into the wall. With no time to react, the Korean and Canadian skaters also got tangled up with them and spun out of control. And while arms and legs were flailing from the four skaters, Bradbury was able to avoid the disaster and cross the finish line to claim the gold medal! Yes, “time and chance” determined the winner.
Bradbury did not set any records and was the least talented, but he claimed the gold. There were actually two reasons why he won. First, he did not let the more capable skaters keep him from competing. He could have said, “I cannot keep up with those guys; there is no need for me to even try,” but he didn’t. The second reason for his success is that he did not get caught up in the wreckage around him.
In short, being successful in the Christian race is won by the same reasons. The Bible states it this way: “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 2:1, 2).